How can I stop torturing myself with regret and learn to make decisions again?
May 13, 2009 10:34 AM Subscribe
Grass_is_always_greener Filter: How can I stop torturing myself with regret and learn to make decisions again?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
For the first time in my life, I had my act together. After a year and a half in the post-college, low-wage ghetto, I had finally got my foot in the door at a respectable job. It was at a book publisher--which meant, as an English major, that I had won the lottery. I opened a savings account and started socking away money. I moved into my own place. I started dating. It seemed like I was finally on my way to becoming an adult.
And that's when I did something stupid; I chucked it all to go to grad school.
See, the same week that I accepted this job, I was also offered admission to a very seductive grad school program (a frequent escape fantasy from the low-wage ghetto days). It was interdisciplinary. It could be completed in a year-and-a-half. And--most alluring--it included an internship abroad.
So I spent six months tortured with indecision. I was loving my job--the pay was the highest I had ever received, the work was stress-free and earned me praise, my coworkers were fantastic. But it wasn't stimulating. And it didn't offer much in the way of advancement. And I had been burning to go abroad ever since a stint in Europe a few years earlier.
So I took a leap. I quit my job. I had a going away party (during which everyone told me how "brave" I was for taking a risk). I packed my bags, took out a loan, and I left town for school.
Things fell apart midway through the first semester. And while I won't go into great detail, it was pretty much the standard grad school reality check--this is seriously stressful work; this will never get me a job; if I stick with this, I'll be paying back loans forever; etc. All I wanted was an adventure. To enjoy a few quiet semesters of study and then go live abroad for a bit. The degree at the end was just to make this fantasy seem more respectable. I realized that I had bought the cereal box because I had wanted the toy inside.
And I panicked. Skittish about taking out more loans, I dropped out before I had to re-up for another semester. I made the decision ultra-quick, not even talking to the program's adviser. Just as quickly as I had left my job, I packed up my things and left my grad school. I felt like the decision to come to the program was the mistake. And that the decision to leave the program was the rational one.
But now I'm not so sure. The financial crisis has pummeled the publishing world, and the position that I left was eliminated, leaving me without a job to return to. I've been unemployed for six months. And with a scattered, post-college work history, it's looking highly unlikely that I'll convince anyone to hire me. I've had to move in with a pair of aquaintances, more or less crashing in the den of their apartment (back in the city where I had my going-away party five months earlier). I'm crushingly depressed. I should probably think again about furthering my education, but now I'm totally gun-shy about grad school.
And while I know that the program was not a good fit for me, and that I'm saving myself a lot of time and money by getting out early (recognizing a sunk cost and all that), I can't help but think that I would be less miserable if I just would have stayed. At least then I would be actively doing SOMETHING. Instead of moping around all unemployed.
SO. While this seems like a grad school drop out issue, I'm actually interested in asking about regret and indecision in general. And how to get over it. Fellow Filter-ites, have you ever been let down by trusting your gut? Lingered over a decision and made the wrong one? Messed up your life on a whim that didn't work out?
How can I let go of a mistake (or two) and finally move on?