Things I’d Do Differently

There are people in my life whom I’ve wronged.  And there are people of course, who have done wrong by me. Do I need apologies from everyone?  Nope.  But there are a few events that remain unresolved, things that were said to me or actions that were taken against me that I’ve had to just put aside, and move away from, because they will not be made right.  And I remember those people, I remember them none too fondly.

Sadly, there are things I’ve done as well.  There are people who caught me at the wrong time, when I wasn’t quite far enough outside of myself to know my own impact.  There are people in my life who were not treated well by me, and who probably still bear me some type of grudge.

There was a time, in my early twenties, when I was well-known in my community.  I owned a few businesses that were pretty cool – nightclubs, clothing shops, coffee shops and record stores.  It was at this time that I had no awareness at all about my impact on people.  Instead of reaching out a welcoming hand to those around me, I sort of cultivated this “cooler-than-you” attitude.  I created a community where those who were in with me were “in”, and those who didn’t have the good luck of being on a first-name basis with me knew they were just visiting our good times.  Maybe this is just part of being young, capricious youth and all that.  But I look back on those years with a lot of regret – I wish I would have been the person in the community who made people feel welcome the moment they peeked in on what was going on.  I wasn’t awful to everyone, and have heard from people that there were things I did that positively affected them, and for those people, I am so grateful.  But there are so many ways I could have reached out to more people – could have helped them be more safe, have more fun, feel more accepted.  I regret my mean-girl attitude of those days.

There are relationships I was in where I wasn’t at my best.  Guys who I treated poorly, took advantage of, and took for granted.  Again, I can chalk part of these actions up to not really knowing better, being new to the world of adult relationships and love.  But there were many times where I did know better, but put my own whims way ahead of the things I knew were the right things to do.  To pretty much everyone who dared to date me from the age of 18 – 26, I’m sorry you were part of my learning curve.  I know better now – and hope you’ve had better luck in love than when you were with me.

Gotta Get It Right

And now in the present, I still am learning.  My aim is to get to a point where the way I interact with people around me only has positive effects.  Still, there are so many situations presented where people can be made to feel less-than,where those who are not comfortable in their own skin can be made to feel even less comfortable, and where misunderstandings lend themselves to a great place to start a fight.  My recent navel-gazing sessions have given me some perspective on these pitfalls, though.  Being loud and right isn’t always rewarding.  Making someone feel the fool because they hold different priorities isn’t always redeeming.  And holding a consensus on other people’s mistakes is begging for the same to be done to you.

These are lessons I’ve been learning my whole life.  These are the lessons of things I would do differently.  These are the lessons I’d like to teach to my son(s) before they every have the chance to regret how they’re hurt someone.  They’ll have to learn on their own, I know, through their own experiences.  But  isn’t it true that as parents we have the largest impact on our children to by modeling behavior rather than giving it lip-service?  I think so.  Is there anything you’d do differently?  Is there anything you’d like to change now?  I’d love to hear it.

16 thoughts on “Things I’d Do Differently

  1. Just tried to post but it didn’t work. Sorry if this repeats. Just wanted to say that you’re right about judging people around us, and lending our opinions on their choices. I’d hate to hear what unkind words could come out about my choices, my kids, my everything. It’s important to support our people around us, to build up instead of tear down. Great reminder.

  2. Way too many to name, the list goes on and on.

    However…

    If we learn from those mistakes, as you have, and try to pass on the right way of doing things to our children, as you intend to, I think that really counts for a lot.

    I believe that the best thing I have accomplished in my life is raising two daughters to accept the differences of others: race, religion, sexual orientation, whatever. It always gave me joy to see the evidence of their tolerance as they were growing up, but it wasn’t until the aftermath of 9/11 that I realized how valuable that was.

    We’re all human, our mistakes vary. Always trying to do the right thing makes up for a lot, though.

  3. Been whipping myself lately for many things.
    Here are my 3 main categories of lameness:

    1) Things that I am just now becoming conscious of doing.
    2) Things that I have done for years, consciously, but can’t seem to stop completely.
    3) Random one-time crappy behaviors that shock even me (see item #1)

    The newly-learned- what do I call them, flaws, faux-pas, bad habits, dysfunction, evil predilections- take your pick- they are scary to me. How have I come this far in life with so little awareness surrounding these things!? I must be stupid, in denial, or completely delusional. But I also have hope- Hey, now that I know, I can DO something about it- right?

    But those things that I’ve been chipping away at for some time….well, they bring me shame and are quite disheartening. Yes, there is progress, but some things are just so damn ugly, I never want to see them EVER AGAIN!!!

    As for the shockers….well, they are few and far between the older I get, thank god. I don’t surprise myself much anymore. And there are usually larger patterns of dysfunction backing them that tend to emerge sooner or later. So there’s that.

    My best advice to myself: Get reeeeaaally good at forgiving myself and others. It makes that whole process of being human much more bearable for everyone involved.

  4. I don’t know, Jodi. I remember you from your Mechanized days, and I always felt that you were a really nice person. I was (am) really shy, so didn’t talk to you v. much, but I remember you made me some really great White Chocolate lattes. You threw some great parties, too. I loved the vibe of the old Mechanized one-offs and Subconscious Swimming. Thank you for those times.

  5. I don’t have the mental strength, right now, to even go there. I have been trying to move forward and do the best that I can right NOW, and hope that forgiveness is in the future. For me and by me. Thanks for the post.

  6. I feel like I could have written your entry…I don’t really know how to make up for the past other than being a better person moving forward.

  7. I’ll share that I am very impatient and I thought I’d get better as time goes on but no such luck. I have, however, learned to “filter” what I say and be more encouraging….one major regret I can’t get over ….when I was 20 I was asked to be in a wedding, got fitted for the gown etc. Four months prior to the wedding I heard about a summer opportunity I could just not pass up (sophomore in college, really really really super cool biology research assistantship in the FL Keys!!)..anyway I backed out of the wedding. I never sent a card, never talked to “the bride”.. I feel awful to this day.

    More recently? I stopped talking to my brother twenty years ago. Three years ago I knew he was dying of cancer and yet did not reach out to talk to him prior to him passing away.

  8. Spot on with this post. I just returned from a vacation where my actions caused some discord within the family and where things were said by myself and someone else that should never had been said. I am working on forgiving myself and forgiving them and not sitting on the pity pot for to long. It is a lonely place to be but I am working my programme, turning it over and giving to god and trying to live the next 24 with grace, love and dignity.

  9. Jodi –

    Thanks for posting this. As one of those people in your past, we had our moments. I was very young and immature. Looking back at that time, I would change a lot of things. The good news is that we are now both mothers and have grown up a lot. I found you after many years and as much as I regret some of those moments we had, I always loved you. I learned from you more than anyone, especially how to be stand up for myself and I am thrilled we are friends again. You will always be a sister to me even though we haven’t seen each other in almost 15 years. Your words and writing are really inspiring to me. I wish we lived closer …for how busy I am these days I know I would spend much quality time with you.

    Love,

    Dazy (afro, aka nathalie)

  10. anything i’d do different?
    – i’ll go ahead and say no, because “i have no regrets,”…because everything i’ve done, “made me who i am today.” ok, now that that’s out of the way…
    – i’d be more respectful to my mom. i think i was pretty dammed respectful, especially in comparison to most. my mom is my everything, but i was a little bitch sometimes to her. i’d change that.
    – i’d use condoms more. yeah, i said it.
    – i don’t know if i’d be nicer to people. i’m incapable of bullshit. maybe i could have been more diplomatic about “the truth,” though.
    – i would have pursued my art more in conjunction with my education, rather than choosing one ro dominate over the other.
    – that’s it. i guess i really don’t have many regrets. anything i did i’m either proud of or proud of the ultimate, however untimely, result.

    Is there anything you’d like to change now?
    – i’d like to change how i dis/allow people into my life. into my heart.
    – i’d like to change how late i pay bills i can afford to pay.
    – i’d like to change how badly i seem to be chasing my father in every man.
    – i’d like to change deodorants.
    – i’d like to have god in my life more. don’t ask me how though.
    – i too have gone out of my way to make sure people know how right i am and how wrong and stupid they are regarding the environment, presidents, cooking, human rights, relationships, coffee bean choice, tip giving, music, transportation, book buying. however, i’ve since chilled out. what caused this change? LA. i moved to LA and i no longer care to let everyone know how superior i am to them. go figure.

  11. Wow – thanks to everyone who is putting their lives out here – your input is awesome. It’s so nice to hear from old friends and know they’re on the same journey as me. It’s so nice to hear from strangers who are also walking along the same path. I think it just goes to show that even though we’re all vastly different, there’s so so so much more we have in common.

    Keep them coming!

  12. I did recognize the shirt. It’s in far better shape than Phin’s stained and ripped up version. Glad it still gets wear-time.

    Gotta say- I love Tiffany’s response to this question….
    and I want to say a big ‘ME TOO!’ with regards to the condoms, nicer to mom, decreasing my drive to be right all the time, and changing deodorants. I wanna smell nicer and be nicer all the way around.

    Thanks for the thought provoking query Jod-ee!

  13. thanks lelau. and thanks jodi for this post. i’m a pregnant single first time mom (i’m due this friday!) and with the onset of motherhood, it’s tempting to go back and think of all the mistakes i’ve made so i can right those wrongs with my new baby. that isn’t possible and it shouldn’t be the goal. but i think your point is, or at least this is what i took from your post, is that we should take comfort in feeling equipped now because of having gone through these things and “knowing better.” i don’t have an idealized version of “happiness,” or “perfection,” that i’m going to impose upon my son the way many people do when they think they’re perfect, infallible beings. my cousin is oblivious to her faults and is raising 2 robots because she’s perfect. those 2 robots are realizing they’re human now, and it’s blowing up in her face. LIBERATE HUMANITY!!!! haha

  14. Sounds like you’ll be a great mom tiffany- you seem to have solid priorities and a heap of acceptance for humanity. Best of luck with the birth and new mama-hood.

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