What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?
As far as regrets go, I have many. Most of the major ones were brought to light in my previous post: Reflections of a Life Wasted. So, my regrets aren’t any great secret…anymore.
I probably wouldn’t be able to pick just one and call it my biggest, so I think I’ll just pick one of the earliest and touch on that. It’s a pretty big regret as far as my life’s direction is concerned, though.
You see, I have a talent. My mother has the same talent, and that talent has now been passed down to my daughter as well.
We’re not singers. Truth be told, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I can see people around me visibly cringe when I belt out the words to whatever the praise and worship team is playing in church on Sundays. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mother sing out loud, and my daughter has a decent singing voice, but like her dear old mom, she’s totally tone deaf.
We’re not musicians, either. I played the clarinet for about 2 weeks in middle school and dropped out. I barely spent enough time at it to learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My daughter “tinkers” with the guitar, but that hasn’t turned into anything serious. She’s learned bits and pieces of a few simpler songs from Youtube. I tried my hand at Jingle Bells on my step daughter’s keyboard once, because she’s a total piano prodigy and makes it look so easy. I can assure you, though, that it isn’t. Not for me, anyway. I failed miserably. Never even made it past “Jingle all the way.”
No, our talent is solely artistic. We can draw, paint, craft, and create like there’s no tomorrow. We’re full of imagination, all 3 of us, and our ideas flow like spiked punch at a Junior Prom. Projects that my mother did over the years always amazed me, and at 16, my daughter is as talented as I am, possibly even more. Here is a sampling of some of my daughter’s projects:
Yep. We’re those crafty, creative do-it yourself types. Anyone I know can come to me and say, “I need an idea for this,” and I’ll have several almost instantly. It just comes naturally to me.
I exceled in all of my art classes throughout my entire school career. My peers would always marvel at my creations. I remember working on an undersea perspective scene in colored pencil at one point during my senior year. I had some free time in history class one day, so I got out my pencils and did some work on it. I remember the entire class gathering around me ‘oooing’ and ‘ahhing’ as I worked. I even received several offers from people to buy that piece.
When my friends, peers, and co-workers would discover that I had artistic skill, they would always come to me for favors and with job requests. I’ve been the go-to ‘art girl’ in every circle that I’ve traveled in. At the factory I worked in fresh out of high school, a co-worker hired me to do a pencil drawing of her mother. I was asked to do some wacky “over the hill” pictures to hang up for our Supervisor’s birthday. I also designed the front of our March of Dimes Walk America Team T-shirts for one of the many years that our group participated.
The requests still pour in quite often. My husband’s office assistant paid me to do some posters for her to use in a skit that she was doing for the kids at her church. People at my church have come to me with project requests, such as signs that I was asked to make to promote our daycare. I did some signs for a friend for her skit, and I even reworked some pieces of an old desk that I found into paintings to hang in our youth room:
Now, don’t think I’m complaining. I love art, and I love doing projects for people. I just started teaching my own small art class at the co-op that our homeschooled kids attend, and I really enjoy it. If I could just get the kids in my class to enjoy art as much as I do and take the projects a little more seriously, it would be like a dream come true. Their lack of enthusiasm reminds me of myself at a young age…
Which finally leads me to one of my biggest regrets; that I never cared enough when I was young to make a career stem from my talent. I had opportunities, of course. I entered a scholarship contest once in which they picked 3 lucky students out of 300 to receive a free ride through Kendall College of Art and Design. I certainly wasn’t chosen. The 3 that were picked that day, well, amazing would have been an understatement when describing their talents.
So, I walked away full of self-pity, convinced that I didn’t even have skill enough to turn my talent into a career. I did and still do have skill, of course, but it wasn’t the level of skill that those “winners” had. So, I just simply gave up.
There were other scholarships out there that I could have gone after, and other ways I could have made it into college to pursue a career in the art field, but I just didn’t have the ambition after that. I had allowed doubt and discouragement to creep into my head and replace my vision and focus. Now, my lack of ambition in youth has turned into regret as I find myself pushing 40.
Had I just applied myself at the time in my life when it was most crucial, I believe now that I could have gone places with my gift. I could have made a decent career for myself. I could be helping support my family financially better than I am. I could be proud of myself and have something to show for my talent, other than a bunch of artsy favors done for friends and miscellaneous craft projects around my house.
I can’t go back and change it, though, so there’s no use crying over wasted skill. I’ll just pour the knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years into teaching my art class, and hope that at least some of those kids will have the focus and ambition to further their careers and never give up.
There’s a good lesson for my art students, right?
Don’t be a quitter, kids. It will catch up with you, someday.
In the form of regret.