If only I had known then what I know now.
What follows is quite a lot about me and why I now view this phrase philosophically and with a pinch of salt. What I’m saying is that I’ll be taking the long way round to a not so life changing revelation but If you’re like me – listening to peoples experience is your cup of tea.
We hear the phrase “If only I’d known then what I know now” enough and I’ve thought it from time to time as I’m sure many of us have, it’s a common enough regret. For me it’s often a regret about wasted time – of wishing I’d chosen a different path or wishing I’d realised what I enjoy or am good or not good at sooner.
When I was 14 I wanted to play guitar and practiced and practiced in the abundance of free time I had at that age. I got pretty good but always wished I’d begun playing when I was half that age! At that point I didn’t have the perspective to see how early things were for me – I thought I had missed that bus to true musical proficiency. It’s like when I hear my 6 year old nephew talk about when he was a kid.
If only I had known then that I was still young
After high school I didn’t know what to do and by the time I’d realised I needed university to achieve my goals I had to wait till I was an adult student because I didn’t get university entrance.
If only I had known then that I would need to get better grades
Fast forward and I’m studying Art History and Philosophy before going on to Art School hoping to eventually teach subjects I loved. During the free time I developed a passion for chess which I studied intensely every chance I had. After 4 years I realised that time devoted to it was time wasted because I was never going to be as good at it as I would like.
If only I’d known not to entertain thoughts of becoming a chess grandmaster
A few more years and I’ve got my degree and two diplomas and after a bit of a break I head overseas and get some teaching experience. Though I had spent years studying art and art history with teaching as the goal when I began teaching I found that perhaps its not for me. I faced a tough decision – either hang in there and hope things were going to get better and that I’d grow into the role, or push aside the reason for all that study and debt and move onto something new.
If only I knew then that teaching wasn’t going to be for me.
Its was a tough decision because I felt it was far too late and I had invested too much to go changing my direction. On returning from overseas I take up web development in my spare time and quickly find out it suits me and I enjoy it.
I’m 32 now and feel that I’ve found what I want to spend the rest of my years doing, something I may never want to retire from. It could be easy to say “If only I’d known to study computer science and design when I was at university” but experience shows that in a few years I’ll look back and think to myself how I had so much more time than I realised. So there’ll be no “If only I didn’t waste time on regret”.
I quite possibly wouldn’t be in a job where I get to do what I enjoy if it wasn’t for those previous experiences which gave me skills I use every day and which were valued by my employer because they are relevant to my role. I hope this isn’t just sounding like patting myself on the back – I’m trying to say don’t give up on trying new things for fear of starting too late, you’ll look back and see how much time was still ahead and how the time you’ve already spent do contribute to your interests and professional life in the end.