Tiny Wisdom: All the Fun You Missed

“Don’t let the past hold you back; you’re missing the good stuff.” -Unknown

There have been times when I’ve regretted that I missed out on so much when I was younger.

Because I held onto pain so tightly, I missed out on countless opportunities for fun while sitting alone and feeling bad for myself.

Because I felt so insecure for so long, I missed out on the chance to make strong friendships while shutting down and assuming people would hurt me.

And because I was afraid of failing, I missed out on all kinds of professional opportunities while doing what felt easy and safe.

Now, in my early 30s, it’s tempting to look back and feel bad for squandering those years when I was so full of potential. Then I remember: I still am.

The other night, I attended a family function with many of the amazing, interesting people who I didn’t fully appreciate when I was caught up in my personal dramas. I planned to leave early because I was somewhat tired, but I ended up dancing until the last song with my big fat Italian family.

I remember looking around at my cousins, ranging in age from 11 to 35, my aunt in her 50s, and friends of all ages in between, and recognizing that we were all the same on the dance floor.

We were all losing ourselves in the music, likely thinking about nothing, simply choosing to be together and move. It was almost as if in that moment, we were ageless. What had come or what was coming didn’t matter right then.

All that mattered was that we all had the same choice to make: sit it out, or dance (yes, like in the song).

That’s the choice we’re faced with every day.

We can focus on the fun things we could have done but didn’t, or we can do something fun right now.

We can dwell on the mistakes we made in past relationships, or we can focus on enjoying the relationships we’re in right now.

We can think about all the opportunities we missed out on, or we can focus on embracing possibilities right now.

There will always be something we didn’t do yesterday, but we get to choose right now how yesterday looks when we get to tomorrow. Right now, whatever age we are, this is our chance to live.

Photo by Lara604

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • kathleen

    So very true! Thank you for this reminder that Life is Now xo

  • Lkeohokapu

    I’ve done this many times. but now am being smart about my choices life is to short to be alone. life is about sharing with other people

  • Jcbarron

    The choice to be happy is a decission I can make anytime throughout the moments of our lives.

  • I’d offer its important to reflect and learn, but damaging to wallow in regret and what-ifs. Love the article, we have potential every waking hour whatever out age. All dancing our merry dance on the dancefloor.

    Live Smart Run Smart

  • Wise and wonderful advice, even for someone who has quite a few more years worth of missed opportunities. Thanks.

  • Vanessa

    A wonderful reminder for something that I have often forgotten, especially this past year. Thank you for writing this! 

  • AlexE

    Very wise and apt expecially at this time of year when we look back at our year and sometimes forget about looking ahead…personally I do have to stop dwelling on the what if’s and I could have been…and remember what is and who I am and what I have! Thank you for this…beautiful x

  • I see the light…

    Lovely post! Timely with the New Year approaching. Second chances to do it again. Do it right. I spent a greater portion of my 20’s-30’s in that self-imposed prison. Life WAS a spectator sport for me. I internalized everything, became a work-a-holic. Thanks to a great therapist, I saw the light. I now view life differently. Carpe Diem. It goes so quickly. To waste a single second on past regrets is pointless. Really it is. Thank You Tiny B. for reminding me! Life is much more rewarding when you are an active participant!

  • Jacque

    I had the same observation . . . or very similar . . . “mid-30’s? I’ve got like, 10 more years of squandering my potential to look back on!” But this post is a good one. Don’t look back! Thank you for this New Year’s present.

  • Caritas

    Need to hear this today – thank  you

  • Thank you and you’re welcome! I hope there are indeed many more years, and that I remember to be present for them.

  • You’re welcome! It’s funny, because sometimes I feel like I’m not young anymore, but then I remember it’s truly all relative. I know young people of all ages, and they have one thing in common: they don’t look back! Happy Holidays =)

  • You’re welcome. =)

  • I couldn’t agree more! It reminds me of Christopher McCandless who left his family for solo adventure in the wilderness. When he was close to death from poisoning, he reflected that happiness is only real when it’s shared. I think we can experience happiness alone, but it’s meaningful balance that really makes me happy.

  • I can totally relate to what you wrote about life being a spectator sport. I was just terrified of everything! I still deal with fear, but the difference is that I now deal with it instead of always running from it. You’re right–it’s much more rewarding!

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • Yes, so beautifully written!

  • You’re most welcome! It’s so easy to get caught up in the “what could have been” trap. I know I’ve been there before…and I also know nothing good comes from it. “What could be” is so much more fun to consider, plan, and act on!

  • You’re welcome Vanessa!

  • Good point! We have to look back to learn. It’s all about how we look back and why.

  • Yes, is a tough balance though, one I’m working on.

  • Ricky

    Yes I agree, with the post, it’s very wonderful and inspirational, but it’s the barriers inside me that stop me from doing all the things I missed out in my life, I am 21 and I know I am still at the golden ages of your but yet I feel limited by college, I am dwelling in such a mess, a chaos, I am literally dwelling in front of my pc every day… It’s so boring life, I want to go out and meet out new friends but it’s so difficult everyone is busy with their company, stuff and so on.. I have 2 best friends who could in a no way find time for me in less then a month… so we practically meet just once a year…
    I am really sad about not being able to do anything about it, I am somehow in someway self imprisoned… I know what I want but just can’t get it done. I attended few NGO’s but stopped going, somehow I fee uncofortable, can’t catch the flow.. etc…
    I wonder what is your insight to this situation of mine!
    Thanks in advance

  • Hi Ricky,

    I know this is going to sound overly simple, but my advice is to just keep trying. I know it’s tough because college can bring stresses, and people are busy. I actually still deal with that now as an adult living in LA. I have some friends who I love spending time with who just never have any time. All we can do is keep going out and putting ourselves out there to meet new people. As far as I’m concerned, as long as we’re not sitting on the sidelines, wishing we could get more involved with the world, we are not missing out!

    I hope this helps!