Maya Angelou gave a slightly different version of her famous quote in reference to her own past: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” This sentiment is key to forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. We are all works in progress.
I used to tell myself that I had no regrets in life because every experience was a lesson. While that’s a nice thought in the abstract, there are of course things I wish I had done differently, words I’d love to take back, and decisions I would revisit if I could. When I look at my life today, I see how my present circumstances are largely the consequence of past choices and unquestioned beliefs. I like my life, and I’m generally happy, but I’m also aware of missed opportunities. While I hope I still have a number of years left on this earth, the possibilities for my life don’t seem quite as endless as they once did. I sometimes wonder what my life would look like if I had studied a different major, lived abroad, moved to a big city after college, pursued a different career path, chosen a different law school, not gotten married right after college, or made better financial decisions.