I hate regret. I despise it. I feel it is counterproductive, paralyzing, relentless…and, unfortunately, unavoidable. Unavoidable at least for me because I have a hard time letting stuff go.
In particular, I have a hard time letting my mistakes go. I do my best to make the right decision every time because God help me if I make the wrong one. I will never let it go.
But today, I guess it’s time to let it go.
Here’s the story….
When I was in high school, I really wanted to work for a particular company. I couldn’t work there in high school because you have to be 18, so I volunteered there all the time instead. I used to tell myself that, after college, I would graduate and come back and work there. I figured I could be of more use to the company with a degree anyway. Directly after HS, I went to Bible College for a year. During that time, I got a job offer at the company in the department that I wanted to work in. Because of prior commitments, I had to turn it down. That was hard, but I knew that I wanted to work there after I graduated from a university anyway. So, I went to a university and got my degree in journalism.
A few days later, my dad passed away.
I was already shell-shocked and heartbroken but when the lawyer told me I had to stay in Columbus as the executor of my dad’s estate, I felt like someone kicked me in the head as I was bleeding to death. I had planned to move away and get a job in a different state at the end of that summer. In my disappointment at this career turn of events, there was a gleaming silver lining: the company that I wanted to work for while I was in HS was down the street from my new apartment.
I talked to the head-man-in-charge’s wife and to my absolute delight, she put in the great word for me. Still, overeager after my interview, I must have called the HR department every day for two weeks.
I had to work somewhere though and I interviewed at other places just in case Company A didn’t come through.
I ended up getting three job offers in two days: one with the local government channel, one at JCPenney Call Center…and one at THE company. Of course I took the job at the company I always wanted to work at and all was well in the world. The job wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but I loved the atmosphere, the people and I had my eye on another position that I felt I could get promoted to if I stuck it out in my current position for a while.
So there I was: working 50-60+ hours a week and therefore *insanely* busy trying to close out my dad’s estate, figure out what it means to live alone in my own apartment, volunteering my time writing and editing for an up and coming website, and working my first real post-college job. I was exhausted all of the time, but it was a good exhaustion that didn’t give me time to think about my life or losing my dad or not having a boyfriend or not having any close friends in Columbus. I was at peace too. The company is the most peaceful place anyone could ever work. My boss was great. My coworkers were great. I was learning everything on my job very quickly. In short, I was happy.
Then, three months in, the impossible happened. I was offered another job – an offer I couldn’t refuse.
It came virtually out of nowhere but it was what I had wanted for months! I would be doing what I love, what I went to school for, every day, for 75% more than what I was making at my current job.
If it sounded too good to be true, that’s because it was. I am someone whom really, really, really good things happen to though so I didn’t see it as too good to be true at the time. (Hindsight is 20/20.)
I prayed about leaving my current company and I talked to EVERYone about it. No one told me (including God) “Alissa, don’t do it.” If anyone did tell me that, they were drowned out by my career ambitions and by my future bosses promises. So, I reluctantly put in my two weeks notice (that turned into four weeks) and I left Company A. It was weird because I never felt relief. Not when I put in my notice and not on my last day or even when I woke up the next Monday morning and went to my new job. That relief feeling that comes when you finally leave a job, I didn’t feel that. At all. Instead I felt an incredible amount of guilt that I tempered with my pleasure at my new position.
My new position turned out to not be what I expected. To be fair, at first it was better than I expected. It was awesome, in fact. And though I was guilty about my decision of leaving my dream company so soon, I felt that I had made the right choice for my career.
A month later, I got the sinking feeling that I made the wrong choice. Things started falling through and I quickly realized that what I had signed up for wasn’t what I ended up getting.
Not that I didn’t like who I was working for now, I loved them! I had been volunteering for them already. I just felt like I should’ve stayed where I was at Company A and continued to volunteer for the other company on the side. Everything was perfect before I tried to make everything perfect.
And now I feel like that mother who had an abortion and is always wondering what her child would look like now if she would have kept it. (Okay, It’s probably not that serious, but it is the only comparison I can think of.) Seriously, though I’ve been saying it at least once a week for this entire year, “I should’ve never left [….]” Truthfully, I feel screwed over and I feel dumb. I feel like I asked God for something, I got it, then I saw something else I thought was better and I went for it.
I should’ve stuck it out.
My mom was the only person who gave me a serious side-eye when I told her I was thinking about leaving Company A. She didn’t tell me not to do it, but she must’ve asked me fifty times, “Are you sure?” I wasn’t…but I wasn’t un-sure either so I said yes every time.
Now I am left to wonder what could’ve been and if I made a huge mistake. I ask myself all the time, “What was I thinking????” I know what I was thinking and at the time it seemed logical. Looking back on it now, I see that if I would have exercised a little more caution, I would be in a totally different place right now career-wise and financially. I can’t think of a single good thing that has happened in the past year that couldn’t have happened had I stayed at Company A. It’s easy to do that now though. It’s easy to watch the post-game tape and see where you could’ve made a different play, could’ve thrown the ball to a different person, or could’ve taken that wide-open shot. I’m working on making the best decision while I’m in the game and the clock is running out with no timeouts left.
People always ask me why I don’t just try to go back to Company A. It’s not that simple. For one I’ve already been replaced and in the unlikely event that they did hire me back for some other position there, I would be stuck there forever. I’m only 24. I don’t want to commit to a company for the next 40 years of my life and that’s definitely what I would be doing if I worked there again. I would look like a flake to everyone there if I tried to quit again and I would be convinced that my life will look the same as it does right now if I even thought about quitting. Plus, as much as I actually want to, I can’t go back there. That’s embarrassing! I’m rehireable, but I wouldn’t want to go in there to HR and say, “Remember I worked here for three months and quit? Well that was a mistake. Do you have any job openings?” Yeah, NO.
So, all that’s left to do is move on.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I am thoroughly convinced that leaving Company A is one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made in my life. I am also convinced that I have to let it go. No one has the currency necessary to buy back their past. There is nothing I can do about the Road Not Taken except accept that I didn’t take it.
I realized today that God is bigger than my mistake. His promises are more powerful than my regret. His future for me is better than my past.
I have faith. I have faith that God will turn even this situation into so much good, that I won’t even remember the feelings of guilt, stupidity, hopelessness and regret that have been my constant companion this year concerning my career.
I believe I am right in the middle of the circumference of what God has for me. It doesn’t look like it (at all), but Jesus didn’t look like much laying in a manger in Bethlehem either.
God knows and He cares and He is doing something extraordinary behind the scenes. I heard a man say today, “It is not your job to figure out the future God has for you.”
That’s a relief cause right now everything is one huge question mark!
I learned something from this entire situation. (I’ve learned a LOT of things actually.) But I’m looking forward to the day when I learn from this situation that spectacular things can come out of what seems like sucky decisions. I just need to stay motivated, stay focused and stay prayerful.
We all make mistakes, but we don’t all make progress. I’m moving forward.