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Let’s Get Existential - if you could magically go back to your 20’s


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...would you choose the same path? Do you think you would do the same or very similar things in homeschooling, parenting, working (if employed)? 

I’m taking a paralegal class at the moment and it makes me sort of sad I didn’t just continue working in law. Imagine what I could have accomplished by now! 

As my nieces begin their families and retain their paid employment, I do think, “Good for them,” or “See, that’s smarter than what I did...” 

This is not to suggest my life is not pretty darn good. It is. And of course, who knows what lay ahead on the path not taken; I could be 49 down *that* path and looking at my homeschooling sisters and think, “Gee, I wish I had done that instead of sinking my life to this damn firm.” 

So what about you, assuming I’m addressing an audience of people who are not themselves early 20s? 

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I do wish I had finished a degree; I have always felt vulnerable without one. At the same time though, I try to live intentionally and without regrets. I remember full well all the reasons I didn’t stay at university and instead made other decisions. I guess maybe more than wishing I’d stayed in school, I wish the whole situation had been different so that I would have wanted to. But that would have changed my entire life’s trajectory, so idk. 
I rather like the ways I have grown since my 20’s. But it’s hard to say that I wish I had been more like 47 year old me back then.  

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I wish I’d finished my degree, really and truly. I’m 40 and my youngest is 12 so I’m 6 years away from his graduation. Back then there was no money for it.  I had babies from age 18-28 so I wasn’t going to go to class and distance learning then wasn’t what it is now. 

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Difficult.  I was heading for an academic career when I was diverted by my new interest in Asia and learning Chinese.  Would my life have been better if I had taken up my Cambridge place to do a PhD?  I might have had a more straight-through career (I've done lots of bits and pieces) but I'm not sure that it would have been better.  I'm sure that by now I would be regretting not doing more diverse things.

Husband and I both regret that later, when I had started a new career after taking my Masters, we went with the flow and I gave up my career to look after the kids when we felt forced to move back to Asia so that Husband could be employed.  Hong Kong jobs are full-on, so it was hard to see how we could both work, but we should have thought harder.  We were both very worried about income (he had been unemployed for a year and our eldest was a baby), but that decision left him solely responsible for earning for many years, and effectively ended my career. 

I'm back working full time again now, but my job is pretty mundane and pays only 2/3rds of the average wage.

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I don't know. I think the tendency (at least it is for me) is to assume that if one had chosen a different path things would be better now, even if you're already at least relatively happy with how things are. But of course that's a very risky assumption.

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I sometimes wish that I had been more flexible in my thinking about ways to keep my hand in the working world. I was an engineer at an aerospace company. On the other hand, because I didn't, we've had a lot of opportunities as a family that wouldn't have worked out if I'd done that.

When I was in my 20s, we were at a church that was very conservative in some ways (but super racially diverse - it was pretty cool!) and I don't think I knew women who worked good jobs. Any woman who worked, did so because otherwise they didn't eat, and they tended to work mundane jobs. Now, we're at a church where many women work career jobs by choice. I wish I'd had that sort of role model so that I could have made a more informed choice. OTOH, I really like my kids and I like being home with them. There were two women I really envied because they seemed to have it all, and now I've known them long enough to know that their actual lives aren't what the world sees and that there is no way I envy them in the slightest.

So, I think I would have liked to have been more thoughtful about my choices, but I don't think I would have changed things.

ETA: Growing up, my mom worked at a day care until I was 8. She had studied early childhood ed in college and worked at a variety of day cares and preschools over the years, some pretty high end. She thought day care was positively awful and absolutely the worst and was always telling me that. So that was a very strong influence on me!

Edited by EmilyGF
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I am happy where my life is right now but if I could change anything back in my 20's, I would go back and have more fun. I have been "responsible" my entire life and always chose the "safe" option. I had my first baby at 25 and DH and I worked alternating times (I only worked two days a week) so one of us was always at home with our kids. That leaves five years prior to having kids where DH and I could have done more.

I feel like we were always preparing for something...finishing my degree, getting married, buying a house, having kids. Vacations, except our honeymoon, were always visits to family. If I could go back I would spend more time with friends, see more of the world (though I am doing that now), dance more, etc... 

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One big thing I wish I would have known/done differently was to INVEST starting with my first part time job at 16.  Even small amounts 30+ years ago would have really added up.    I did great at the Dave Ramsey stay out of debt and have an emergency fund (and those things made going through the arrest of my then husband, divorce, moving, etc all so much easier) BUT no one really told me about investing.

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From my 20s, exactly the same.

From my teens? Nope. I never would have finished high school. I spent 2 years sleeping at the train tracks to do so because I thought graduation was important, but haven't used my diploma once.

Never would have joined the military. I have seizures (surprise!) so they sent me home, but I spent about 8 months in a coma I would not have if I had never gone.

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26 minutes ago, BarbecueMom said:

The changes I would have liked to make in my 20’s would have required changes to happen long before that, with some people making different choices in *their* 20’s starting, oh, about nine months before my birthday, IYKWIM. 😉

This. 1000x this.

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30 minutes ago, BarbecueMom said:

The changes I would have liked to make in my 20’s would have required changes to happen long before that, with some people making different choices in *their* 20’s starting, oh, about nine months before my birthday, IYKWIM. 😉

Same here!

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Well, I was married and divorced in my 20s, so there's that I would change. But it was in my 30s I really went wrong, I think. I finished my degree (English) while working full time, and that was fine, but one of my professors who really liked my writing encouraged me to apply to a specific writing program for grad school. I didn't see how I could work that out, so I never did it. It was really my timidity and fear that kept me working at jobs that were fine rather than take that leap to do something completely different.

But I agree with Pawz, it is too easy to assume that things would have been better if certain things had or had not happened, so I don't think about it too much. My life has had a lot of ups and downs; too easy to look at the downs and say "see, if I hadn't done, X, things would have been better!" Of course that's not necessarily true.  (As noted in the OP!)

Edited by marbel
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I feel like the opposite of everyone. I would have told my 22yo newlywed self not to put off having babies.

I got my degree 18 years after I graduated high school and I'm glad to have it, but... I'd choose more babies when I was younger and had more energy.

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I try not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I was on hormonal birth control in my late teens/early 20s and my periods have never been the same since going off it. I know no studies have shown a significant correlation between HBC and infertility, but as my stepkids keep growing up and we keep not conceiving siblings for them, I wonder more and more if things would have been different had I not made that choice.

What is especially frustrating for me is that becoming "tea-ly" active and going on HBC weren't really wholehearted choices. I was a "follower" at the time and by college, literally every one of my friends was. They were all holding it over my head and telling me that I'd never really "be a grown-up" or "understand" until I'd had that experience myself. Looking back on it, that was a sign of their immaturity, not mine, but I fell for their peer pressure and even pressured my boyfriend at the time into it when he wanted to wait. 

Honestly, most of my bad choices until age 25 were consciously made against my better judgment, and mostly to please others. At the time, pleasing others was the same thing as pleasing myself, so I sincerely believed I was doing what I wanted to do. There's still that streak in me, but since meeting my husband and kids, I've had to grow up a lot. There have been many times now that I've had to displease others in order to do what's best for my family, and now it's much easier to tell people to go jump in a lake if they don't like my choices.

Edited by egao_gakari
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49 minutes ago, Donna said:

I am happy where my life is right now but if I could change anything back in my 20's, I would go back and have more fun. I have been "responsible" my entire life and always chose the "safe" option. I had my first baby at 25 and DH and I worked alternating times (I only worked two days a week) so one of us was always at home with our kids. That leaves five years prior to having kids where DH and I could have done more.

I feel like we were always preparing for something...finishing my degree, getting married, buying a house, having kids. Vacations, except our honeymoon, were always visits to family. If I could go back I would spend more time with friends, see more of the world (though I am doing that now), dance more, etc... 

This is me.  I was in a marriage that required me to be on high alert all of the time and I never could relax and have fun.  

I had plenty of time to have gotten a degree before ds came along, but again I was always wondering what would happen next thanks to my very unstable marriage.  But I think I made the right decision to be a SAHM for my son.

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I make most of the same decisions.  (school, work, family.)

The only thing I would change is that I would have dumped that old college boyfriend much sooner and married my current husband when he first wanted to get married instead of waiting a year.  I would also have been a whole lot more calm and less over-reactive in our early relationship...but that what 20-somethings seem to do.

If I wanted to change my whole life, I would have gone ahead and applied to graduated school and not been basically bullied out of it by a hated professor.  However, then I would never have met my husband and had my wonderful kids...so it's really had to regret that decision.

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

...would you choose the same path? Do you think you would do the same or very similar things in homeschooling, parenting, working (if employed)? 

I’m taking a paralegal class at the moment and it makes me sort of sad I didn’t just continue working in law. Imagine what I could have accomplished by now! 

As my nieces begin their families and retain their paid employment, I do think, “Good for them,” or “See, that’s smarter than what I did...” 

This is not to suggest my life is not pretty darn good. It is. And of course, who knows what lay ahead on the path not taken; I could be 49 down *that* path and looking at my homeschooling sisters and think, “Gee, I wish I had done that instead of sinking my life to this damn firm.” 

So what about you, assuming I’m addressing an audience of people who are not themselves early 20s? 

I wish I could have continued to program databases (like I was in my 20s)

The one thing I'd change is I'd have signed up to sponsor in my 20s and visited my kids internationally when I had more free time and income.

 

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The only thing I wish I'd done differently was to save money when we were a two-income household. We married young and developed poor financial habits right off. We had six years, pre-kids, that we could've been saving. 

(Edit: sometimes I think I shouldn't have married so young. Sometimes I think I should've majored in another field because it ends up I hated teaching elementary in public school. I'm very glad I stayed home with my kids -- that 5 year period when DH had cancer would've been more challenging if the kids had been in school.)

Edited by alisoncooks
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I don't regret not getting my master's degree. My dh just finished getting his, and I had planned to start after he finished. 

If I had my master's degree, I doubt I would still be in the classroom. AND I love teaching. I would hate dealing with so many problems; just let me have a classroom or a group of kids even at the nature center and let's learn. I also loved being a stay at home, and if I had my master's degree, I think I would have felt compelled to keep working to justify the cost and time for earning it. 

 

Now- I would go back to my 20's and start with lifting weights and taking better care of that body that I thought was fat! Oh how I wish I had that body again - it could do so much more! Hiking, swimming, biking... I never took advantage of my youth! 

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I do sometimes wish I had finished school younger, but I have three degrees now so that worked out okay. 

I married ex too young and we had a lot of issues related to how I was raised.  But if I hadn't gone through all that, I wouldn't have oldest dd. 

I'm very happy with my life the way it is now but there's no way I would have gotten here if things had been different in my 20's.   

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I got married at 20 (he was 25) and we started our family and then homeschooled from the beginning.  I'd absolutely do it all again.  In a heartbeat.  I really did need to start that early because it took to long and so much for us to have all of our kids. I wish we'd had a 4th. I'm content with 3, but 4 would've been ideal for me.  If I had known the struggles I would've tried having the 3rd sooner so there would be the possibility of time and money for the 4th. I had 3 miscarriages before oldest life threatening to both of us pregnancy with middle resulting in secondary fertility issues.  Youngest was adopted internationally.  

My only regret is not going debt free earlier, but husband was the sticky wicket on that, and I couldn't control that. He came around when he came around and he does regret not coming around sooner.

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Another  thought... when I talk to young women now about marriage and family, possibly homeschooling, I tell them not to end up like me: with a big employment gap and outdated skills. At one time I thought I would never have to work again... well I was wrong. So I spent a year trying to improve skills but still ended up with a crappy job and no end in sight. At 64, there's not a lot I can look forward to in terms of improvement.  

So, I do regret checking out of the employment world completely while homeschooling. I regret not keeping up with technology such that my skills are more marketable.

(Example: I was a very good corporate trainer, training customer service reps. But at that time the training technology was overhead projector and transparencies. Remember those? Then I did a volunteer training gig in which the overhead was replaced by a slideshow, which was fine and easy enough to adapt to. But now... online training, zoom?  Totally different ballgame; if I had kept up with those technologies even in my personal  life I'd be in a better position now. I mean, I could still do it, given time and the right equipment, etc but those are in short supply in my life now.) 

Edited by marbel
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I wouldn't change anything I did in my 20's. I was fortunate enough to have the family stability, genes and determination to get an undergraduate degree, work in my field, travel, complete a graduate degree and get married before turning 30. I created a really firm foundation of academics, work and life experience that served me very well for the next 3 decades. I might change what I did in my 30's, which was having 4 dc in the span of 6.5 years and disappear from work almost completely. However, I've been able to get back into work in a slightly different career path. 

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I would have continued with my second year of student teaching, despite having oldest at home, so I could be a special ed teacher, which is what I always wanted to be. 

I would've figured out a way to teach even though it would have been difficult with all the military moves.

I would tell myself to make my own decisions, not go along with whatever others around me pressured me into doing. I would stand up for myself better. But 40 years of habit make that difficult to overcome. 

 

It's interesting to me that what I wished I had done differently is what my 2 daughters are choosing to do. They've both said they don't want kids first, they want careers. They have a spirit of "I can do it" around them. I wonder if when they're my age, they'll have the opposite regrets I have.

 

 

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My thoughts are so, so different on this.  I’m very happy in life now, but I do sometimes wonder what would have been different if my dearest friend and mentor had not become ill and passed.  Helping her through that time, staying with her while she passed, then fostering her 14 yr old son was pivotal for me.  And also - she and I had plans involving a different trajectory re: grad school and location.  So I’d have quite likely ended up in CA doing my grad work, and not married to DH, living on the east coast.  So it’s not so much something I could have done differently, as something that might have been different (if she had gotten a transplant in time, or never fallen ill, so really not in my control). But ... I’m very happy where we are now, so it’s not really a regret.

Although ... I’d have listened to DH when he wanted to invest in Apple in the late 90s!

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The only thing I would change would have been to pay attention to the economy more.  We bought our first house at about the worst possible time and ended losing an astronomical amount of when the economy tanked.  We couldn't get rid of it for years and it caused so much stress.

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I've wondered about this question over and over again over the years because my decision in the 20s was such a fork in the road that changed my life dramatically. I chose to immigrate here and I was lucky I was able to. This was the only other place I have ever wanted to live even when I just had a hypothetical idea of what living here would be. It was more a wish and a hope. The first reason I even thought about it was incredibly naive, but put it down to an idealistic, book loving teenager ☺️. We had a British and an American consulate in my city. You had to pay for membership for the British library, the American library was free. In my mind, any country that had free books was magical, it just built from there. It sounds so stupid and simple, I just never thought I would ever get here but I wished just to visit. I never thought I would be living here for almost half my life now.

The reality has been less than magical of course like real life is. A lot more complex and a lot of loss as well. I always struggle with missing my parents and brother. I don't think I will ever get over that. But if I could go back to that book loving teen who sat on the floor of that library and read those books, I would still make the same decision because it has given me a different life than one I ever imagined. Better in some ways and not in others. But I still love the library though I now know it is not "free". 😂

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Buy and sell homes at better times is about all I'd change. We would have loved to stay in NorCal, but we are better off financially where we are now.  I made so many mistakes before my 20s, but they led me to dh so I wouldn't be willing to change that either. 

Edited by Plum
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I had four kids by the time I was 29.  So, I'd probably have done a lot of the same things - would have been more willing to continue the no-sugar diet I did as I felt so good on it, and the exercising I was doing even though dh said we couldn't afford for me to continue the class.  I was in better shape than in high school.

my dd works one day a week - but it's too keep her license active after all the work she put in to get it.  her dh takes care of the baby  while she's at work, they stagger their schedules.  we'll see how it works with the new baby.  (she gets three months maternity leave.)

I wonder if there's some desire to get working moms to either quit, or come back full-time . . . she was required to work three weeks at full-time when she came off maternity leave last time.  (which just happened to coincide with her dh's week? two-weeks? off because they close the factory over the holidays. so he had the baby most of that time.)

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I always read threads or participate in discussions about this and really feel like the odd one out!  I got my undergraduate degree right after high school, taught a few years and got married at 25, finished grad school and then had a baby at 28.  I have always chosen to stay home and homeschool my son, although I have tutored/taught other students through the years.  I just really enjoy kids, and I have loved this life.

I am fortunate in that we have always been financially set.  We have never rolled in money, but we have always had enough to be secure.  I know that changes the way I view things.  

I would most definitely have made different choices in my early dating life.  I would love to have been able to have more children and not to have lost my first baby.  My life has been far from perfect, but it has been a great ride.

I would very much encourage a daughter, if I had one, to follow her heart and stay home with her children if that is what she desired.  That time spent with my son couldn’t have been spent any better way, as far as I’m concerned.  

I do, however, fear that I’m in the minority.  I am content to let my degrees collect dust in the upstairs office while I live this life.

The only thing I’d do differently in my twenties would be to have more confidence in the decisions I was making, and to trust the Lord that he would take care of the future.  I have spent way too much of my life in worry.

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I would chose a different path, without a doubt. I almost did, but got pregnant at 22 and that set my on a path of no return. There are lots of things I look back on, and regret. I wish I had invested in my  career. When dh and I had young kids, I tried going back to school, but dh had a second job helping a friend build his construction business, so there wasn't enough time in the day for both. That business never developed into something more than years of side jobs, and my degree never happened. I have a job, not a career and I wish that was the other way around.

There are lots of things that I wouldn't change but it would be ok if they did. Things like home school, that I feel greatly benefited my kids, but they also would have thrived in traditional schools. 

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I am turning 34 in July, for some perspective regarding my answer here is some background.  I started dating dh when I was 20, married him right before my last semester of college was starting so when I was 21.  Got pregnant with my first child halfway into that final semester so I finished college during my first trimester.  Dh was already established in his career as a martial arts instructor.  I knew prior to having children that I wanted one parent at home with them until school started.  Dh was on board with that and we decided it would be me since he was already established in a career and I still had no idea what I wanted to do.  His job has been the only issue in our marriage and I mean it is literally the only thing we have ever argued about. And at one point I was convinced it would be the end of our marriage if we didn't switch or I didn't start working instead of him.  His career change has been the best thing to happen in our marriage.

So, the only thing I would change about this entire journey so far is job related.  Either I would choose to be the one to work while he stayed home, I would have expanded my pet sitting business to make it a livable income while staying home with the kids, or I would have insisted dh change career paths much sooner.  Any of those things would have brought us to a much happier life sooner. I would never choose to have both of us working full-time while the kids are growing up, that much I am sure of. 

I am glad I got my bachelor's degree and hope to put it to better use some day or even go for my masters.  But I am happy to wait until my children are older.

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3 hours ago, EmseB said:

I feel like the opposite of everyone. I would have told my 22yo newlywed self not to put off having babies.

I got my degree 18 years after I graduated high school and I'm glad to have it, but... I'd choose more babies when I was younger and had more energy.

Oh, and I will say that part of my calculus on these ideas is that I did enjoy a small amount of professional success in the military and it felt satisfying, but also long term the impact on the world seems negligible compared to raising human beings (and I have no real illusions about my kids turning out a certain way based on what I want or plan them to be). But it's like I could have stayed in the military and gotten more back pats and awards and promotions, I could have been "accomplished", and been a good briefer or analyst or whatever, but none of that really matters...if I hadn't been there someone else would have done the job adequately, or not. When I left the office kept on turning out the work it needed to do. I tried to reconcile professional success or accomplishment and keeping my career going and it just doesn't compare to my family and teaching my kids to read and feeding them and being their mom. The accomplishment of family seems much more weighty and eternal than anything I could do in an office.

I understand a lot of people take more from their jobs than this and sometimes the two aren't even at odds, but I feel more like jobs and careers are a means to an end...to enjoy our families. Success is nice and feels good, but when I think of what the meaning is long term for me, it isn't enough. I grew up being expected to go to college and being told I could do whatever I set my mind to, but all I wanted was to be a mom and I grew up being sent the message that was an absolute waste. I wish I hadn't listened to that for so long. Since I got married at 22 I wish I had more babies as that would make me feel more accomplished today, in a sense (not in the sense that kids are my accomplishments in case that's what that sounds like).

Sorry I thought about this while taking a shower and I had to get it out of my head.

Edited by EmseB
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If I could have, I would have figured out that I had PMDD a lot earlier, and I would have sought Christian counseling for my hurts from growing up a lot sooner.  There is someone I wish I had not dated. But I try to remember that these hard things have cultivated empathy in me that might not have come had I not struggled.  

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I liked my 20s and wouldn’t change anything there. If I could, I would change a few things about my 30s but nothing too major. I don’t regret marrying and having kids young nor do I regret staying home for the past 20 years. 

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I would probably be more careful with money and make sure I saved or invested more. I was able to correct that eventually but it's still harder to do the older you get and the more responsibilities you add.

Other than that no. Do I have some regrets? Of course. But changes to choices then might not have led me to where I am now, and this is where I want to be. As we all know, the rules of time travel are that you can't interfere or make any changes because you can't be sure how they'd change the future (yours or anyone else's future). 😄 

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6 hours ago, Quill said:

...would you choose the same path?

 

Career path, yes. All I can ever remember wanting to "be" is a teacher. I went straight to college out of high school, got my education degree, and began teaching. I'd still do that. I loved it. I wouldn't go back to teaching now, but I did love it when it was my profession.

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There are some things that I think "If only..." but I don't think if given the chance I would actually change them.  It would have been nice to get my Bachelor's degree, but I don't think I would get it at the expense of getting married when I did.  I wish I could have had kids sooner, but that wasn't a choice on my part.  I would have been more supportive of my DH's hobbies and interests.

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I regret some of my decisions, but if I had not done what I did, I wouldn't have my current kids. So, I wouldn't change anything but minor things like not getting lost one morning heading to work or being more careful leaving work (flat tires in both cases).

In my 30s, I don't regret spending a year traveling one day a week to spend with my parents as that turned out to be the last year of my father's life. I don't regret giving money to my brother that I knew I would never get back. I will always wonder if I had left the door open to a future loan to him that he wouldn't have died. 

From my early life, I have my B.S. in Engineering. I chose to accept a job that ws half a continent (or more) away from my DH for the first several years of our marriage. No regrets (because, boy, does that experience help when we don't get a chance to talk for awhile because of kid chaos). I don't regret DH staying home with our oldest or us switching jobs right before DD#2 was born so it was me staying home with the rest. I don't regret getting my P.E. license after I quit my job & we moved here, but I hope I never have to use it. I don't regret homeschooling or me staying at home

I do sometimes wish God hadn't given me what I prayed for in a couple of situations. Life would be so much harder, but maybe I would be a better person. When He has said No, I almost always ended up the better for it.

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Regrets? I have a few, but then again, too few to mention . . . 

No, I wouldn't change much of anything. I partied hard and enjoyed that, had some years alone with dh and enjoyed that. We had some time far from home and I think that was great for me and my marriage - we really focused on each other and I think it's very freeing to be away from the people who've known you all your life, and to see different places and ways of living. I didn't want kids too early and that was the right decision for us. 

I loved the homeschooling lifestyle and wouldn't trade it for more money. dh made less money than he could have for a long time because he chose not to travel when the kids were young, and I wouldn't change that, either. Whatever we say on our deathbeds, it won't be, "wish I had spent more time with the kids" 😂

 I knew I wasn't the type of person who could be at work building a career and still give my best to the kids when I was home, so it kind of wasn't a choice. Some people manage that admirably but I'm not one of them. 

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5 hours ago, Ottakee said:

One big thing I wish I would have known/done differently was to INVEST starting with my first part time job at 16.  Even small amounts 30+ years ago would have really added up.   

We probably could've invested more earlier, and we should've rolled over a 401k earlier! We did a lot right though, including only living on one income even during times when we had two coming in (we were facing additional schooling, so we saved part and paid extra on my student loans with part while getting lower interest student loans for DH). 

4 hours ago, lmrich said:

Now- I would go back to my 20's and start with lifting weights and taking better care of that body that I thought was fat! Oh how I wish I had that body again - it could do so much more! Hiking, swimming, biking... I never took advantage of my youth! 

I'd like to think this for myself, but the truth his, my body went downhill when I birthed SN kids (who weren't diagnosed for a long time) while my DH was commuting to work an hour 1 way (and DH had untreated ADHD for most of our marriage). Stress ate it up, and I didn't have margin to take care of it properly, nor could I do so easily with SN kids in tow. I developed allergies that absolutely impaired my ability to do basic indoor and outdoor activities and required hours of my life driving for shots and tons of money in meds. It would definitely be easier to fix that body than the one I've got now if the allergies had not taken place, but my younger me body still had SO MANY aches, pains, and weird complaints that just added layers of difficulty to my already stressful life. 

Most of my choices are what they are--I need a lot of margin in my life, and I am not sure my younger self would've been able to appreciate the differences in choices if I could go back and redo them. Things like working vs. staying at home would've required getting childcare, and that would've been seriously stressful to me, sucking up all the margin I had. Homeschooling is the direct result of trying school with a profoundly gifted kid who has ASD and ADHD and the mess that was!!! As far as income goes, homeschooling kids on IEPs in my state gets me access to lots of free therapies and tutoring that we could NOT have afforded or that would've sucked up my income. 

I would like to think that I'd set better boundaries with my MIL early on and recognized how unhealthy she is early on (I gave way too much benefit of the doubt). This would've been truly life-changing. I wish I would've found a way to spend time with people who liked me when I was a young mom with difficult kids. I tried too hard with people who were not a good fit. 

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3 minutes ago, katilac said:

 I knew I wasn't the type of person who could be at work building a career and still give my best to the kids when I was home, so it kind of wasn't a choice. Some people manage that admirably but I'm not one of them. 

Perfectly states one of my reasons for staying home. 

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1 hour ago, EmseB said:

Oh, and I will say that part of my calculus on these ideas is that I did enjoy a small amount of professional success in the military and it felt satisfying, but also long term the impact on the world seems negligible compared to raising human beings (and I have no real illusions about my kids turning out a certain way based on what I want or plan them to be). But it's like I could have stayed in the military and gotten more back pats and awards and promotions, I could have been "accomplished", and been a good briefer or analyst or whatever, but none of that really matters...if I hadn't been there someone else would have done the job adequately, or not. When I left the office kept on turning out the work it needed to do. I tried to reconcile professional success or accomplishment and keeping my career going and it just doesn't compare to my family and teaching my kids to read and feeding them and being their mom. The accomplishment of family seems much more weighty and eternal than anything I could do in an office.

I understand a lot of people take more from their jobs than this and sometimes the two aren't even at odds, but I feel more like jobs and careers are a means to an end...to enjoy our families. Success is nice and feels good, but when I think of what the meaning is long term for me, it isn't enough. I grew up being expected to go to college and being told I could do whatever I set my mind to, but all I wanted was to be a mom and I grew up being sent the message that was an absolute waste. I wish I hadn't listened to that for so long. Since I got married at 22 I wish I had more babies as that would make me feel more accomplished today, in a sense (not in the sense that kids are my accomplishments in case that's what that sounds like).

Sorry I thought about this while taking a shower and I had to get it out of my head.

This says it better than I could.

My life looks nothing - N.O.T.H.I.N.G. - like what I thought it would when I was began college. I was going to be a career woman and work full time and I was raised to be self-sufficient and independent and "not need a man" and all that. I was well on my way too - got accepted to a prestigious grad school to get my master's and was ready to save the world as a social worker and a child advocate. But none of that fulfilled me. None of it had a lasting impact that only I could fulfill.

I was stressed out and I decided I just wanted to marry DH and have babies and maybe be a teacher someday instead. So I dropped out of grad school and got married and had babies and stayed home with them and eventually became a homeschool mom LOL

No regrets. Well, other than a bunch of pre-DH boyfriends that really weren't healthy and other excrutiating mistakes in my high school and college age angst. But no "life path" regrets.

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I wish I had transferred colleges, or chosen a different one to start. I went to an excellent high school and then to my denominational college, which was really very average but had a decent regional reputation. I had no idea how different the academic level could be or how miserable it would make me. I took the hardest classes I could first semester, hoping to earn a B so that I could focus on learning rather than maintaining the highest possible gpa. When I got a 100 on my first exam that many in the class failed, I had an "oh crap" moment that should have had me looking to transfer, but I pushed it down. I made some great friends and grew in many ways, but I spent loads of time being ridiculously bored and it shut a lot of doors for graduate school. There are still plenty of open doors, so I'm ok with that, but I was so ridiculously bored and certainly learned less than I should have. I learned to appreciate the library and the resources of the internet, which was also good.

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You know, I'd like to say that I'd live a totally different life with totally different experiences, like getting a do-over on an open world video game... but in practical terms, probably the only difference is I'd win a major lottery and watch different TV shows. Oh, and I'd sure stock up a heck of a lot more for this year, geez.

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For my early - mid 20's, I would be less naive and more empathetic, and have gotten a degree.

My late twenties - mid thirties were, overall, the worst part of my life (so far). There is so much I should want to change . . . but those changes would (1) mostly involve changes to another person and their childhood and (2) mean I wouldn't have my kids, so that's out. Instead, I would change some parts of how I dealt with the stress of those years. Still working on that.

I hate the fact that I just don't know what I don't know. I'm doing things right now that I'll come to regret, but no matter how hard I try, I won't realize it for another decade at least.

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