How do you forgive yourself for wasting 4 years of your life?
August 25, 2013 10:10 PM Subscribe
I'm 30 and still writing my first graduate dissertation. It's been quite a winding road to find direction and purpose in life. I spent (or probably wasted) a total of 4 years after high school exploring unrealistic paths to find happiness, satisfaction and wealth. Today, back to the real world, it sometimes stings to look back on all that wasted time and speculating where I would now be had I chosen the more reasonable and constructive road. Any useful thoughts to help cope with this mostly useless regretful thought of mine?
posted by Basque13 to human relations (35 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Right after high school I got into university to study social work. I dropped out after a few months, not having found the school environment or subject engaging. The following year I got into college to become a teacher, mostly thrived there, and four years later graduated at the top of my class. For the ensuing three and a half years, however, I embarked on an intensive, very time-consuming quest for some illusory "spiritual awakening" that back then I felt would make me happy, wonderful, rich, powerful, and a sort of blessing to the world. That included several hours a day of reading, watching inspirational videos, meditating, attending (and organizing) seminars on metaphysics, new age psychology, writing on my wishful thinking, and seeking connections with people I thought were on the same virtuous path. Nothing substantial came out of it in terms of relationships or finance, and I almost completely neglected my career and education during that period.
I gradually started to restablish links with reality, got back to university to resume my studies, visited a number of therapists, started looking for jobs related to my academic background, found some, and made some progress on designing a more modest and sustainable plan for life. I decided back then that I wanted to stay in the field of education. Given my inclinations and situation, I see this as my best bet to try to find a relatively satisfying, reasonable life and make a valuable yet realistic contribution to helping others.
The problem is I still feel moderately angry at myself for becoming so self-deluded and detached from reality during that mystical spree period. I wasted 4 years which, if well spent, could have put me in a better position (professionally and financially) by now. And in my working class family money has always been (and still is) an issue. I understand being too fixed on past mistakes isn´t very helpful, and in a way I'm present and future-focused now. But I would like to know:
Can you think of guilt-assuaging ways of looking at this?
Or maybe to see it as a lesson for not making similar mistakes in the future?
Looking forward to getting some new perspective on this old baggage