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Ask HN: What do you regret in life?
210 points by personlurking on Oct 31, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 330 comments
I was reading this Ask HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1879530) from about 6 years ago and wondered what HNers regret. Not necessarily your views on the concept of regret but actual examples from your life. I mainly regret not taking university seriously half a lifetime ago, but as a result I became a lifelong self-learner.

Suggested related reading on the topic:

"In Praise of Missing Out: Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on the Paradoxical Value of Our Unlived Lives"



In the Ask HN link above, a guy says he opened an unread email two years late and saw it was from Facebook in 2009 wanting to hire him.

Similarly, perhaps, one of my regrets was having received an early 2014 email that I didn't open, from someone I didn't much feel the need to keep in contact with. In late 2014, I finally read it. It was an offer to be the personal guide to the US team at the World Cup in Brazil...

I don't regret a lot for long, I find it to be an incredibly depressing feeling and I try to make short business of any regrets I do have. I've found most of the time, actions (or inactions) that have lead to me regret can be reversed by sincere apologies, shifting your stance, or otherwise try to undo the thing causing you regret. In the case of inaction, if the train hasn't left the station...

But there is one thing I can't shake.

I met a girl a little over a decade ago, and fell madly in love. We became a couple, but due to various events our relationship ended. Not least because at one point years ago, I was put on the spot and asked where our relationship was headed, a thinly veiled attempt to get me to commit. I loved the girl – still do – but I wasn't ready to settle down and marry. I wanted to focus on my career and build a business and do all of these other things and I just couldn't commit. Not long thereafter, our relationship ended and I relocated to a different country.

It's cheesy and unoriginal, but it's the one thing I regret: not marrying that woman.

Before anyone comments to that effect: I don't have a particularly hard time dating, and have plenty of experience both before and after this woman. But I've never connected with anyone like that before, and it genuinely feels as though I've lost someone hugely important, like family. It's a very sad feeling and cheesy as it may be, it's my only real regret.

I had a similar situation of the one that got away. For decades I told people that I regretted not pursuing our relationship further.

After 20 someodd years we were both available and rekindled our relationship. Things were going well for months until I found out that she had cheated on her husband for years with a man and was continuing to see him while we were together.

Honestly, I was happier with the dream of what I thought we would have been but I lost than the reality.

I'm not claiming your experience would be the same at all, just saying to appreciate the what-if you can hold on to.

I've been there (even the relocation to another country part). Only the woman in my life at the time wasn't asking me to commit, but she would have committed to me - that is, taken me seriously for the long-term - if I had had my shit together professionally (to have been someone with goals, a trajectory of sorts). It's been almost a decade now since then and I don't think of her anymore but it was hands-down the best, most exciting relationship I've had til now.

On the other hand, in the breakup, she treated me really badly/poorly, so it remains like a song where the first 90% was great then someone decided to run their fingernails down a chalkboard for the finale.

I heard through the grapevine that the next guy she dated, she stayed with and eventually married.

I think we're all so conditioned to think about what we give up by marrying that it's easy to forget what you give up by not marrying.

Why not take a vacation and go find her now?

Maybe she still feels the same way.

Quick phone call might be a little less stalkerish / cheaper on a risk adjusted basis.

... add to that quick phone call some probing DD questions about her suboptimal existing relationship, and you could find some profitable arbritrage opportunities. :-)

It's quite possible that the door on that opportunity may have closed, sadly.

I regret being timid with doctors when my daughter had an issue. I knew something was wrong but didn't want to be obnoxious and insist I knew more than them. I let them delay important scans because it was late Sunday and they convinced me it wasn't a big deal, that'd it be OK, nothing would happen overnight. That was incorrect and she died two days later. It was a minor issue that should have been caught, that I almost certainly would have prevented just by insisting a bit, risking a bit of embarrassment of being a pushy parent.

11 years later and this still destroys me any time it crosses my mind.

I'm sorry to hear that Michael. So sorry to hear about your loss. Hindsight is so difficult.

I've a similar medical experience and still think about it a lot. "I had it in the back of my mind, why didn't I insist?". I know it is because the hindsight gives me certainty that I did not have at the time but the impulse to regret is sometimes overwhelming.

For what it's worth mate; hang in there.

Because we're taught to revere doctors instead of seeing them as just another professional that makes mistakes. I'm reminded of "the rabbit is running for its life, the fox just for its lunch". Not to suggest doctors don't care, but it's just a fact: they will make mistakes and they have to accept that in order to work effectively.

Oh goddamnit, that was right in the feels. I'm sorry for your loss and I hope you forgive yourself for it one day. Your intentions were well placed and you couldn't have known.

Spending so much time on HN instead of doing things that will have an impact (and I don't mean coding).

50 years from now nobody will care about code you wrote, neat charts you made in Visio, or that you managed to get acquihired. Give your grandchildren something to care about.

All true, but as devil's advocate: there is code out there in the wild written 50 years ago that we care about.

Banks, power plants & other utilities, satellites, etc. spring to mind, sure, but even the more mundane.

If you're on OS X/macOS, here is the source code to the command line utility `cat`: http://opensource.apple.com//source/text_cmds/text_cmds-71/c...

Released by Berkley in 1989 making it at least 27 years old already, there are lines of code in there probably going back to the 1977 release, because this of course goes back to old school Berkley System Distribution release. 40 years old, next year, then. Can't see it's going to be modified much in the next 10 years.

I expect there is code being written today that will be considered useful enough to still be used in 50 years. I know a guy who worked on weather modelling for the Met Office - I bet his code is still in the models being run in 50 years time. It might have been modified, but there is a real chance his code stays intact.

Code has a half-life, not a use-by date. Work on code that embraces that, and write code with that attitude.

If you're working on some crappy app or site you _know_ will be dead in 2 years time, you might be OK with that. You might not. If you're not, go look for the careers where the half-life is extended.

"Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody's gonna die." - Morty

Nothing you do, or statistically anyone does, matters after you move on whether it's moving on from that job or moving on from this mortal coil. Regret needs to be framed in the sense of did you regret what you did at that moment for that moment.

Thinking about your accomplishments in the frame of years after your dead is going to just depress you to the point you're going to consider making that end come a whole lot sooner.

Give your grandchildren something to care about? Why would they? By the time they come around, everything you've done is old news. Then your great-grandchildren, well they won't know anything about you. Your great-great-grandchildren won't even know you existed, just like everybody else on the planet. Don't do things to try to create a legacy that no one cares about.

I regret plenty, but I also don't care that I'm a meaningless nothing in the universe.

I find "What will your grandchildren think?" to be a decent heuristic. For example, I admire my grandparents a great deal for their community service. My grandmother is in poor health, but she still gets around for charity board meetings. In her prime she was a pillar of civil society in my home town. Thinking of what future generations will appreciate pushes us to think outside of ourselves.

I know less about my great-grandparents, but I admire them for emigrating to America and struggling to make a better life for their kids.

Granted, on the cosmic timeline their actions don't amount to too much (because nobody's do). But I definitely feel the impact of my great and great-great grandparent's decisions.

> Give your grandchildren something to care about? Why would they? By the time they come around, everything you've done is old news.

Spend time with your kids, keep your marriage together. Love your family. They'll (eventually) see that you did, and they'll care very much about that.

A related quote that's sticking with me well at the moment is "no one wishes they spent more time on their phone when they are on their death bed".

But it's a stupid way of seeing things because people choose consciously to use their phones as much as they do on a daily basis - not being forced or having nothing else worth doing. Regrets usually carry a lot of bullshit.

I understand your point but its not really fair. The choice is not always conscious when there are a thousand behavioral analysts on the other side of the screen trying to make you use their apps more and more.

I would say its the lack of a conscious choice that makes us using our phones so much.

I don't quite get the behavioural analysis bits. I spend time on my phone reading the news, reddit, HN, a couple blogs, WhatsApp with friends and I also play games here and there until they bore me. The game I logged the most time in is a port of a game made by a shareware-style developer back in the ninetees.

Where was such analysis involved in driving my usage patterns?

The act of being "on your phone" isn't necessarily bad. If it's arguing philosophy with people on HN, maybe not a great way to spend time compared to, say, communicating with your family or building relationships.

My grandchildren are going to love my design documents.

Well, million years from now on, nobody will care about any impact you did

And after the heat death of the universe nothing will matter! Let's just all do nothing.

I think the point is to do what you think is meaningful (or at least enjoyable).

Worrying what your future grandchildren think about you is a ridiculous way to live your life.

> you think is meaningful

It is easy to get your perception of meaningful poisoned by ideas like religion, so one has to be careful how he spends his precious moments in his window of consciousness

If the think the events in the story "the last question" could happen then that might not be true.

Unless you are extremely lucky chances are fifty years from now, nobody will care. Everything you think is time will cease to be useful to them. Your Great Grand Children won't know you as a person. Hell they won't even remember your name.

Even if they do, it won't matter to you because you will cease to exist.

I only met my great grandfather once before he died, but I remember his name, and my parents still have the artifacts he left behind. He was a carpenter, and made several wooden pieces we still have, including a turtle footstool, a doll house, and a garage for toy cars. He also made a kid's rocking chair which sadly got destroyed over time. I played with all of them plenty when I was a kid.

I plan on keeping these things in the family as long as possible.

Make things and leave them behind, and hopefully your family will still cherish them. I write and make board and video games, I'm hoping some of those will stay in the family. I also want to get into woodworking once I own a home, and make custom components for my games.

As a counter point: My grandfather was a carpenter too, and my family was somewhat poor, so the save everything mentality was often in play, and straddled the line between sentimentality and fiscal responsibility. I loved (and love those still alive) my family, and cherish all memories I have, but the _stuff_ I feel is more of a burden. It was genuinely hard getting rid of stuff because it was so ingrained that they had to mean something to me because of their legacy, but it was just crap that I had no use of or liked.

Once I managed to disconnect the stuff from the people/memories, I felt a huge relief just decluttering. I have maybe a book or a note from people, and of course photos, but I have procured only furniture/cuttlery/paintings/etc that I like, not those I inherited "just because". And I'd gladly see my children just chuck everything I don't have time to get rid of before I die, and hope that they remember me fondly as a person, not as someone dumping a houseful of emotional and literal baggage on them.

I'm likely projecting, and am sorry/happy if this is not your situation, but I identified up to a point and wanted to suggest to people like me that decluttering/chucking out old junk can be very relieving.

You both share a common passion. That's your shared luck I guess.

What grandchildren? The likelihood of me having kids at this point is extremely remote. The way I see it, if you're going to have kids, you have to meet a good partner in your 20s or even teens, and at the very very latest, your early 30s. I'm beyond that now; back in those ages, I never managed to meet someone who wanted to have kids and had an interest in a guy who wasn't a loud-mouthed extrovert.

My big regret: not moving to the PacNW when I had the chance in my mid-20s. Things would probably be extremely different for me now if I had. Or maybe I should have tried moving to Asia; women there appreciate intelligent but quiet men who have good careers.

So if I'm really really lucky, 50 years from now someone will still be using some code I wrote. That's really the best I can hope for as far as having "an impact".

You're a male. You can reproduce when you're 80 years old. Plenty of men have children in their 40s and 50s. You can make it happen if it's what you really want.

That is what everybody says, but realistically, to get a young woman to have kids with you at old age, you need to be quite successful financially. Maybe some young women prefer older guys, but I suspect in general they are not that keen.

There's plenty of women who prefer "older" guys, but that means something like 5 years older, and no more than 10. The extra maturity is attractive to the woman, and women seem to become emotionally mature faster than men.

But that still means that if you're 50, the best you're likely to do (unless you're rich) is a woman who's in her early 40s, and that's really too old to have kids without assistance, and you'll run a greater risk of Down's.

Even if you're really rich, the 20-something girls who'll want you are going to be materialistic airheads, and will get boring pretty quick, and will not have any real feelings for you.

You can reproduce at 80, but sperm quality goes down with age, so there's a higher rate of birth defects.

The other problem is finding a willing female. I don't know about you, but I would not expect to find a 25-30 year old woman wanting to have kids with me when I'm in my 50s, and really don't think that's realistic even at my current age (early 40s). Maybe you're better at talking your way into much younger women's pants than me.

I can also look for women around 40 like myself (which I've done), but here there's tons of problems: 1) many already have kids, and don't want more; 2) the ones that do are usually never married and suddenly are realizing they don't have much time left to have kids. Many of them are never-married for a good reason... (they're so nutty that no man sticks around for long). And they're frequently desperate, but in a bad way: they won't give anyone a chance because they want to find Mr. Perfect after a single date. They have completely unrealistic expectations; I've seen it many times here.

As an aside, I went on a Tinder date with a 43yo woman a while ago. We talked on the phone before meeting up, and one of the first things she told me was how she wanted kids and had already tried one round of IVF!! Talk about TMI... Of course, if she's on fertility drugs and taking IVF, that means that 1) she's likely infertile already, and 2) considering I'm just starting with her, it's likely she'll keep doing IVF while we're dating and end up with some anonymous donor's kid, and not mine. (And if we did have a kid together, it almost certainly wouldn't be conceived naturally.) Luckily, I guess, she didn't want to meet up again after the first date.

Honestly, I think it's a lost cause. At this age range, it's just too hard to find someone that wants kids and is in a good position to have them, and still is a great partner in every other way. The dating pool is simply too small, and most of the people in the dating pool have way too many issues.

Luckily, I just started dating someone who's really nice, very attractive, and really likes me, but she doesn't want kids. Considering this is the first woman I've had more than 2 very casual dates with since my divorce 2 years ago, the idea of passing up this opportunity just isn't appealing.

What about the code you wrote that earned you a living and perhaps some savings? And helped you explore your talents?

50 years from now AIs will extract history from your HN comments. Maybe some people/AIs will write PhDs about HN comments. You are representing mankind :-)

actually (although borderline delusions of grandeur territory) your code can make quite a bit of an impact in "real life". and the beauty of it is you don't even have to work for google or facebook to get your system to be "touched" by a very large number of end users.

And if you don't want children?

what things have an impact for you?

Thanks for sincerity.

Three things:

(1) Not retaining good exercise habits through my 30s and 40s. I did way better than most, but still went through too many periods - sometimes over a year - where I hardly exercised at all. It's really hard to pick it up again when you're 50, but really important too. It hardly even matters what kind of exercise you do (cue all the weightlifting bros jumping in to disagree) so much as that you do something.

(2) Buying a house. What a pain. The purchase price is just the beginning. Then you have to factor in property taxes and insurance and constant maintenance that's both a cost and a huge time-suck. The financials would have to be way more positive for it to be worth it, as far as I'm concerned.

(3) Getting involved in a project with crappy code and too many developers constantly making it worse. Life's too short. Even if it's not as directly in your area of interest, or not as outwardly successful, working on good code with an upward quality trajectory is better for overall happiness.

Constant maintenance? What is going wrong with your place? I don't think it's supposed to be like that.

Nothing's going on with my place that doesn't go on at every place more than a few years old. Some day everyone's going to need a new roof or siding, new furnace or water heater. They're going to deal with pests (mice, ants) and fallen trees/limbs and drainage issues. Even when there's nothing wrong you have to mow lawns, rake leaves, shovel snow, clean gutters, etc. - or pay even more to have someone else do it. In our case the biggest single item was damage from ice dams, just like half of my friends and neighbors. This is all routine stuff, but it sucks up a lot of time and energy.

I also regret buying a house. Double down on the regret for not selling that house before 2007.

I regret not seeing clearly the effect that my depression was having on my wife and kid, which will probably result in our divorce. Depression is stressful to the bystanders -- don't think you can tough it out because it's just you!

This is my one regret also, causing collateral damage to some very close friends - rightfully not close friends anymore - while I went through depression. Had to really rebuild myself from that point and still continuing to do so.

What do you wish you did differently? How did you move forward?

I just scrolled down this thread and started reading a few of the different regrets. One thing I realised is that a lot of them are contradictory with each other.

e.g. Not marrying that girl vs. Rushing into marriage

Not working harder in school vs. Not playing more sport and socialising more

If you're the type of person who always thinks "what if?" then you're always going to regret something. I'm starting to think that regretting is more a bad habit than anything else.

There's always going to be something to regret, if your mind works that way.

Disclaimer: I am somebody with a lot of regrets and a bad habit of going over and over things in my mind. A habit I am gradually getting rid of!

Yeah, on that, it's called 'Rumination' if you are looking for the google key word to research it more. I've done a bit of research on this, as I ruminate a lot too and it has always affected my sleep. Does anyone have any good tips or sources on how to stop excessive rumination and just fall asleep? The only good things I have found are an exhausting amount of exercise or beer.

Yep, I learned about rumination from some therapy I had about a year ago.

I'm very far from being an expert so take what I say with a pinch of salt and see a professional therapist, if you can afford it.

It sounds pointlessly glib, but the answer is to stop thinking. It felt very unsatisfactory for me. I'm naturally a 'thinker' so there was a tendency to think that if my problems are caused by thinking, they can also be solved by thinking. I had to accept that this isn't true.

With practice you can begin to learn to gently redirect your thoughts to something else. Don't rush it, you mind will naturally wander back to rumination. But you can slowly get better at steering your thoughts away from it. It's a skill, a muscle that needs to be exercised.

This is basically what mindfulness is all about, although I didn't have much joy with the guided meditation exercises. I'm going to return to them and try again at some point.

Also, there's nothing wrong with getting there through an exhausting amount of exercise. It helps for me too!

For me, the rumination went hand-in-hand with being self critical. Being kind to yourself is another skill that needs to be practised.

Hope this is helpful in some way.

Cutting out all sources of caffeine (I had to; developed an allergy) and taking fast-release melatonin have lately made a tremendous difference for me in falling asleep.

I've had this same problem and have largely solved it. Here's my write-up:

Sleep is underrated. It improves our health, memory, mood, immunity and more. Here are some ways to improve your sleep and get to sleep on time.


    Flux: This program dims the blue light output from your monitor as the sun sets and brings the blue light back as the sun rises. Blue light is a natural signal of daylight that causes our body to produce less natural melatonin. Melatonin causes drowsiness. Flux can be disabled for color sensitive work. https://justgetflux.com/

    Cell phone apps: There are plenty of cell phone apps which have this same feature. I use Twilight for android. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.urbandroid.lux&hl=en 

    Sunlight in the morning: Leave your blinds open while you sleep. When the sun rises in the morning it will naturally wake you up early and help establish your sleep cycle. 

    Tape over any unnecessary blinking lights 


    Less abrupt noises: You'll sleep best if there aren't any abrupt light or noise changes. White noise can help drown out any sounds that would disturb your sleep. You could play a white noise sound from a site like 

A Soft Murmur: http://asoftmurmur.com/


RainyMood: http://www.rainymood.com/

You can also use other noises like the "wurr" of a fan.


    Consistency is key to sleep. Humans aren't able to bank sleep well. For example, trying to catch up on sleep missed during the week by sleeping in on Sunday isn't very effective. Even if you can't go to sleep at the same time each night, waking up every day at the same time will quickly put your body on a good sleep schedule and make you fell more rested overall. 


    Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body in response to sundown. Modern artificial lights can disrupt this process. It is sold over the counter and is non-addictive, unlike other sleeping medication. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep                                                                                                                                                                  
    Ear plugs: These are great for dulling noises from inconsiderate family members or roommates while you're trying to sleep. I still can wake up to an alarm even if my earplugs do stay in all night.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
    Read a book: Reading is a great way to spend time before bed to get sleepy and take your mind off of the day's stress. 


    Cell Phone: Cell phones often require a lot of hand movements, uncomfortable head positions, and bright lights. Avoid looking at your cell phone in bed. To make yourself get up at the first alarm in the morning, plug your phone in out of reach of your bed so you have to stand up to turn off the alarm. 

    Computer: Computers are also distracting just like cell phones. Cell phones and computers are so interactive that they can keep your brain busy and stave off drowsiness. 


    Heart rate: Avoid strenuous tasks right before bed. To go to sleep you're going to need to let your heart-rate drop to your resting state. 

    Eating: Don't eat right before bed. It may make laying down uncomfortable. 

    Drinking: You want to be hydrated but not so much you'll need to get up for the bathroom in the middle of the night. Put a glass of water on your bedside table so you don't have to stand up if you are thirsty in the middle of the night. If I ever wake up at night I take a sip of water and plunge right back to sleep. This water is good to hydrate first thing in the morning too. 


    Launder your sheets frequently: This is easy and makes the bed much more comfortable and hygienic. You spend a lot of time in bed. How many hours would you wear clothing before washing it? Washing pillow cases often helps mitigate acne as well. 

    Use a blanket and a sheet: Too many people don't have sheets on their beds properly. A sheet will help you regulate your temperature by adjusting how much of your body is covered by each thickness of bedding. Tuck that sheet in at the foot end. Tangled sheets can make uncomfortable lumps in the bed. 

    Don't do other activities in your bed: Reserve your bed as a place where you sleep. Do homework, use your computer and do other tasks elsewhere. This way you can condition yourself to associate your bed with sleep so you'll get in the right mindset as soon as you lay down each night. 


    Loose fitting clothing or none at all: don't sleep in jeans, tight bras, etc. Let your skin air out. Let your muscles relax into positions your clothing might normally prevent. 


    Plan ahead: Get yourself ready for bed ~30 minutes before you intend on sleeping by brushing your teeth, changing clothes, and getting some water. 


    Stretching before bed relaxes the body and the added flexibility helps to eliminate discomfort. 

    Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Flex and relax each muscle group in order from your head to your toes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_muscle_relaxation


    Sometimes I can't sleep because my mind races with thoughts. This is worse if those thoughts are stressful. I like to write things down so I can forget about them for the night. 

    Tell yourself a story: To distract yourself you can tell yourself a story as you fall asleep. Establish characters with backgrounds, talents, and motives and then send them on an adventure. Pretty soon you'll be exhausted and give up on story as you drift to sleep.

I started regretting not learning an instrument.

Then I realised this was dumb, bought a £20 Ukulele, signed up to classes, and am happy as a clam.

4 months in, I play twice a week with a big group. I still sound awful solo, but am amazed at how far I've come, and how much embracing something totally different has enriched many parts of my life I just didn't expect.

I'm glad you found this. For me music is one one of the more intensely personal things in my life--listening and playing.

On that same note, I already play guitar but I've always wanted to play drums. I can't buy a kit and play in my apartment, but there's no reason why I waited 5 or more years just to get a practice pad. I do at least 20 minutes of exercises almost every day and have been for almost two months now. Once I get a kit or get on one of my friends kit's, I'll be ready.

I play twice a week with a big group. I still sound awful solo

This is something I wish I had learned sooner, playing with other people is actually better the worse you are.

This is quite inspiring - a lot of us leave creativity behind in high school, kudos for sharing!

I regret that I never made as much time as I could have for my dad when he was around. Knowing how much simple texts calls and emails would have meant, my consistent failure to respond promptly and contact regularly will always be a regret. I hate the idea that he might have thought I didn't care, rather than I am just lazy/thoughtless.

I regret clicking on this thread on a Monday morning. But to echo what you said, I wish I had hung out with my dad more when he was alive. Things happen, spend time with your loved ones while you have them.

I'm really grateful to a cousin for pointing this out to me when I was 17 or so. I was at a family wedding, and he asked me if I was going to dance with my mother. Being the self-conscious teenager that I was, I told him I wasn't planning on it. His response was, "Well, you know, she isn't going to be around forever. One day you'll look back and wish you had more time with her."

I think it's important to become your own person, and you need to spend time away from your parents to do that. But I make sure the time I spend with my parents is quality time, and I don't waste it texting or whatever.

One thing I've heard is that the biggest regret most men have at the end of their life is prioritizing work over time with their family. I constantly need to remind myself of this, and I think it is something that other people on HN need to remind themselves of as well. I notice that a lot of companies try to play off the existential fear of being forgotten when we are gone by telling us we are part of something bigger than ourselves. I think that expecting the work you do at a company to create any sort of meaningful legacy is foolish.

I was careless with earplugs at a concert (not the whole concert, just the time before the band hit the stage but it was quite loud music playing) and that may have given me tinnitus, which sucks. So take care of yours ears!

I have tinnitus and have only been to one concert and a few smaller shows in my entire life. No headphone abuse, no firearms w/o hearing protection, no jet engines.

It just happens. Don't beat yourself up about it.

Don't stress about it too much. Even people who protect their ears can end up with it, and others who don't never experience it.

Also don't stress about it because stress generally worsens the tinnitus!

Only two thing I really regret:

- The stress I must have caused my parents by being a complete arse from about 17 to 21 or so. They had 4 kids with 2 of my siblings suffering from disabilities. The last thing they needed was me adding to their stress levels. Of course, I didn't realise this until after they were both dead and I was a parent of a relatively well behaved teenager!

- Bottling out of trying to join the Royal Marines - trained like crazy my last two years at University but then was too terrified to actually apply in case I wasn't good enough (which I probably wasn't!).

Edit: On a positive note apparently the first thing the young lady who went on to become my wife of 26 years noticed when she first met me was my nice arm muscles acquired from all that training! Also thinking about it going into the forces might not have been the best for the stress levels of my parents!

FWIW: I went for it and got into a pretty tough program (OCS US Marines), but got 'boarded' 3 days before graduation. Brutal experience in many ways, but I'm really glad I did it despite not making it to graduation.

My regret is not following through with a meeting/interview at the CIA a couple years later. I don't remember all of the details, but in the end I was afraid of the same outcome ('failing') so I cancelled it politely and moved on; I shouldn't have and regret not even going.

Have you read Bob Baer's "See No Evil" - it goes into a lot of details about his experiences being recruited and working in the CIA.


I have read that book (it's been a while but I remember it being a good read) and would love to say something more substantial about my experience, but frankly it simply came down to fear of failure and not wanting to blow it (again).

This is somewhat top of mind because I just found the typewritten letter (this was back in the early 90s) spelling out the process of getting to the interview. With OCS the process was obviously way more explicit, but this was a series of phone conversations that ended with that letter and plane tickets at the airport on a certain day. I was newly married with a baby on the way and chickened out.

While I definitely regret not following through, I really can't complain as I've been very fortunate since.

One thing my mum taught me is that having a sibling with disability is not easy. It takes so much out of both the siblings and the parents that it can cause us youngings to act out. I hope you can forgive yourself for being a complete arse.

I regret that I took the easy way out studying math. When calculus was too hard in high school I switched into a Pascal class, that I already knew, because it was taught by the math department and gave me the same credit. I suppose my real regret was that I let fear over grades dictate what I chose to learn.

I did the opposite. When I could have taken easy classes I took hard ones. Sometimes I did poorly because I challenged myself so much academically. The result was a mediocre GPA (~3.2). There are a lot of lost opportunities that come with not gaming the system.

I think we have to ask what kind of stupid times we live in when a 3.2 is a mediocre GPA. If you didn't game the system, as you said, to look like "the best of the best of the best", then you suck?

Sometimes our failures guide us. I thought I might want to study mathematics for life. I pushed myself hard and was taking advanced courses. When I received my first bad grade, I realized it was not the right path for me, and that my motivations for delving that far into mathematics were wrong. I'm glad I learned that earlier rather than later.

I've stayed in research, and all those math courses have given me a firm foundation on which to solve real science problems--I see that now. But I cannot regret going through what was fundamentally a learning process, and stepping too far in the wrong direction.

Similar happened, I felt really medicore by (attempting to) studying pure math at one of the top institutes in the world to impress my parents and peers instead of figuring out what truly would want to get me out of bed in the morning.

Same, I was studying theoretical physics in switzerland, and getting paid in gold compared to comparable programs around the world. Within 3 months of starting, I couldnt make myself wake up in the morning, and fell into depression. Leaving the phd, was the hardest decision of my life and give up the wide eyed impressed reactions to the question 'what do you do'. But now (few months later), working in Paris with days filled with novel experiences, makes me glad I didnt hang on and regret it the rest of my life.

I did the opposite too. I kept taking the harder options and while my knowledge and understanding increased drastically.my "GPA" wasn't good enough for anyone. Grass is always greener on the other side heh?

I regret not diving deeper into probability. I find myself wishing I had a stronger handle on advanced probability almost once a month.

I've been trying to catch up somehow but seems like the time is always running away from me.

Probability is hard because it looks simple, but is deeply unintuitive for quite a while.

I write code in my spare time that makes bets in APIs. It's sort of "sports algotrading". As such I care about probability a lot. I found it quite hard to get a grip, and even now I have to hit the books regularly.

It's rewarding, but take it slow and build up. Sometimes you have to treat advanced maths a bit like you would a fitness regime: what does the C25K of the area you're trying to learn look like? Once that's done, what's the 10K version? The half-marathon? The marathon? And so on.

Everybody starts by getting off the couch though - even if you're working through basic probability classes on khan, you're one step ahead of the you that carried on messing about on HN or Reddit or whatever.

I didn't start lifting weights until my 40s. I now realize how great strength is in so many ways.

There are two things in my life that I'm so grateful I became interested in. One is coding, the other is weightlifting. The benefits of each are so great I feel like they're the closest thing to having actual superpowers.

"No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable." - Socrates

I got a coworker of mine into lifting. She's 62, and she's already enjoying a bunch of the benefits.

Unfortunately, she only goes when I go, and she's retiring in seven months. I don't know if she's going to stick with it when she leaves. I hope she does, as she's been making some great progress.

> I don't know if she's going to stick with it when she leaves.

It's lovely that you got her into exercise, when she leaves you could still arrange to meet her at the gym for workouts assuming she doesn't live miles from the gym, retiring can be a nasty shock for lots of people since they go from full days to "what the fuck do I now" in a weekend.

She's retiring to Pocatello, ID, unfortunately. That's a little out of the way for me.

Could you elaborate, in what ways?

Also, I've noticed that people in the gym are somewhat narcissistic, so perhaps the benefits are only for this group?

I started climbing, people at the bouldering wall or at outdoor routes are awesome.

Why is it so great? The control over your body. The feeling awesome and powerful. It has made my life a whole lot less stressful as well, even though I do more.

If you don't have some kind of total physical exertion in your life I highly recommend getting one.

This has always seemed like fun to me - is it hard to get started?

Not at all.

To start, do three things.

Find a bouldering wall. Get a hold of some climbing shoes. Watch videos 5, 6, 7 of Climbing for Beginners [0].

Don't spend a lot on shoes, you will wreck them really quickly and you will certainly buy the wrong sizing when you start.

Boulder a bit and have fun. I enjoy bouldering with a friend the most as it really challenges me. Bouldering walls are often full of really cool and helpful people.

If you like it then watch some more videos to improve technique, think about what you are doing and practice. Consider trying rope climbing (you will want to take a short intro course for this, the rope skills are important).

Then you will start watching super cool videos [1], find yourself at the wall waay too often, and be more interested in finding out somebodies beta than their name.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbIDnMmSLsc&index=5&list=PL-...

[1] http://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/

Nope. Find a bouldering gym, buy a pair of shoes, go climbing and chat with everyone.

Being able to carry the shopping home without struggling. Being able to easily help people move furniture. Better tolerance for kids jumping all over you. More energy. Better sleep. Better mood. Confidence.

Also just the feeling of being firm and toned. When you bump into something or someone brushes by you in the street, that's when you feel the difference. Whatever you bump into doesn't sink into your flab, it bounces off instead. That's what I loved about being all toned from gym, you sort of hold yourself more confidently and it feels great... (I've since let things slide recently, it comes and goes! I'll be back there soon, I don't do gym all year.)

Some are, sure, but those mirrors are actually there so you can check your form.

A CrossFit instructor I know says the best reason to squat is that you will be able to go to the toilet unassisted when you are 80...

Aside from labeling anyone that works out as a narcissist, the sheer 'ability' to do things is what makes it great.

I'm not even referring to just being able to lift something, because plenty of larger framed people can do that. I remember the first time I realized I was no longer "big" came when I squeezed through a thin pathway in my closet. Last week, I ended up doing 7 chained backflips at a trampoline park. What was the point of both incidents? "To see if I could".

If you do some forms of training, you can become very flexible. If you are martial art minded, you can find yourself very disciplined.

Finally, you do get more confident (what someone might see as narcissist or how someone might manifest it).

I'm well into my 40s. People's bodies, in general, decline in strength as they age. I wanted to delay that effect and also be stronger so that I could do things that required strength (e.g. I like scuba diving but lugging around tanks was hard work).

I started with 30, still regret not starting before, haha.

I lifted for a few months two years ago, but stopped because of various factors. My physical therapist friend doesn't like weightlifting, though, she says the risk of injury is too high. I'd like to start exercising again, but I don't know what would be effective enough without as much risk of injury as weightlifting...

In an athletic context, one of the key benefits from weight training is injury prevention.

Yeah, I'm not sure about that. Like your sibling comment, I also injured my back while deadlifting (with proper form and everything) years ago and it's been very tender and ever since. I also get back cramps in that spot around once a year, making me unable to move for about a day.

Same. I crushed my L5 L6 disc and was in pain for 2 years. But fortunately with care it eventually recovered to 100% and I don't feel it at all anymore. However deadlifting is something I would never ever try again, and when I see people doing it I often tell them my story. It's one of the best lifts, but one of the most punishing. I wish I knew how dangerous it was.

That aside, most other lifts are fine. The only other one I would suggest people avoid is bench pressing with the smith rack (that's the rack where the bar is fixed and only moves on the vertical dimension). You'll get weightlifter's shoulder from doing that. Stick to dumbbells.

Weightlifting is definitely injurious -- but also provides you with a lot of strength and physical fortitude that prevents injury doing other random things/sports. Like other physically taxing activities, it's a bit of a double edged sword.

Strength training with free weights actually has one of the lowest injury rates for a form of exercise around. Much lower than soccer or running or pretty much anything else you can think of.

Your friend is probably wrong. Check out the chart listing injury rates by sport. Notice weightlifting has a lower rate than just about any other form of exercise. I'd only consider swimming safer. Start slow and build up strength over a long period of time, like 5 years.

* http://www.bboyscience.com/injury-rates/

I loved weightlifting, but you're right. Currently recovering from a nasty back injury despite doing all the right things, and having a dedicated trainer. You'll never do it all correctly every single time.

I'd love to do it again, but I can't see how I'd ever justify the decision. Luckily swimming, running, yoga are all just as fun.

Yeah, the two options I'm entertaining now are running and tennis. Otherwise, maybe something like TRX or bodyweight exercises.

This, I started lifting at 17 but didn't really work out "how" to lift until mid twenties and didn't get a good grasp of nutrition until 2 years ago.

How did you refine your daily nutrition and start eating more healthy?

I cut out white starchy carbs (change to wholemeal bread and brown rice etc), removed refined sugars as best as possible, increased my protein to 1.5 g per lb of body weight, set my fat to 0.5 g per lb of body weight and then change my carbs depending on if I want to gain weight or loose weight - If It Fits Your Macros has a very good calorie calculator. I also do a lot of bulk cooking so my recipes are logged in MyFitnessPal ahead of time.

what type of gym do you use?

I'm also curious - I find that location plays a much larger role than price (for me). I'm more inclined to go if it's closer and pay a little more.

I still dislike paying as much as I do though.

A small personal training only gym with mostly free weights (dumbbell, Olympic bar, kettle bells) and a small number of machines.

Not regularly exercising after I finished high school. You should definitely do that. The time to start really exploring all the cool stuff your body is capable of doing is before and during its peak, not as it slides down the slope into the trough of old age. I find myself wondering how fast I could have run a half marathon 20 years ago if I'd become a runner then, but I'll never know.

I regret not beating out a fellow photographer for the cover of National Geographic, but there isn't much I could do to change that one, it's just one of those "damn, my best wasn't quite good enough" moments. But fortunately photographic ability doesn't decline with age, though the relevance of the medium might.

If you spent your times running marathons in your 20s and 30s, you'd have a good chance of being in for a total hip / knee replacements in your 40s. Swings and roundabouts!

Is this actually true? I always see it bandied about without data.

Again anecdotally, I have a keen running doctor friend in the UK who had 2 hip replacements by the time he was 40. Now that he's in his mid 50s, he's looking at replacements for his replacements.

Anecdotally. A friend is a surgeon. Does knees and hips. Says patients are getting younger. E.g. late 30s for total knee replacement is no longer uncommon; usually endurance athletes.

> But fortunately photographic ability doesn't decline with age, though the relevance of the medium might.

Side note from a few days ago: Sebastiao Salgado (72) believes photography in process of extinction


1. Not taking care of my teeth when I was younger.

2. This is probably more substantial: Not finding the right group of people to surround myself with. This is a mixture of not putting in the effort and not being in the right environment (particularly growing up and not really having the choice).

Now I'm starting something to hopefully help me and others find and share interests/passions with like-minded people. Life is too short to spend not fully enjoying the things we do.

Ah good old teeth. Not really engineered for the 21st century are they? Nothing quite like the first few implants, maybe your first flipper, and some force fed dental education to stoke the fires of regret :)

I regret not taking any real risks. I joined the fortune-500 corporate software world, never tried a start-up, never made anything memorable, never broke new ground.

I regret letting myself get comfortable, to a place where the money is too good to leave.

99% of startups are neither memorable or breaking any new ground.

> I regret letting myself get comfortable, to a place where the money is too good to leave.

Getting comfortable is not necessarily bad. Knowing you have a solid "fallback" option in case anything goes wrong can actually help creativity and reduce the risk of having to compromise, imho.

It sounds like what he is saying is that it hasn't helped his creativity though, and he's been compromising his creativity up until now..

This, yes. And other things.

Sorry- my reply was a bit insensitive, probably just jealous of your situation :)

>I regret letting myself get comfortable, to a place where the money is too good to leave.

That sounds terrible, so sorry for you ;)

Want to trade?

honestly? Getting in to software development. I should have been a mechanic, carpenter, machinist, or just sucked it up and spent more time really studying math and gone the engineering/architecture route.

I've known my entire life that I needed to be making tangible physical stuff to be really satisfied, yet somehow I have never made the leap because the money is too good in technology land, and building software seemed like a pretty good compromise. Now I'm bored with software engineering, transitioned in to a corporate information security role to take a break, and feel like I'll never get back to anything I like more cause the money is just too good.

Depressingly, I can see myself slowly moving up to middle/upper management (it's already started a little bit) because once again the money is too good, and falling in to the trap of telling myself "look how cheap you live compared to your income, you can just retire by 50", which probably won't happen anyway. Hell, even if it does, I'll be 50. Not the end of the world, but not as good as doing what you enjoy through your 20s, 30s, and 40s.

tldr: first world problems. As much as people like to make fun of the stereotypical "white guys are either in business or start a brewery" thing, I get it.

> Depressingly, I can see myself slowly moving up to middle/upper management (it's already started a little bit) because once again the money is too good

If the path upward involves management, and that doesn't appeal to you, consider looking for a company with a better technical job ladder. You can climb the ladder without going into management.

Consider combining the best of both worlds by launching a startup based on products from your interest areas (selling them, connecting makers/collectors, streamlining processes for related manufacturers, etc). You can start on the side and quit work to focus fulltime if it grows. Lots of lucrative sub-sectors in design-related physical goods.

You can also take a sabbatical/time off/holiday to refresh your mind, explore ideas, tinker with related hobbies. If you stick to tech, consider taking similar but shorter breaks regularly (e.g. 1-3x yearly).

thats not bad advice.

For the past year I've (intentionally) not done much/anything tech related for side-projects just to give myself a real break. I've done some stuff on the side, and even made a little cash at it, but its been in totally different areas that I probably can't scale in to a full-time gig.

Maybe it's time to get back on the horse, in a bit of a different way.

> "Now I'm bored with software engineering, transitioned in to a corporate information security role to take a break"

> "Depressingly, I can see myself slowly moving up to middle/upper management (it's already started a little bit) because once again the money is too good"

It's like you're writing about a future version of me. I'm now just pondering getting more into infosec.

tons of demand in the industry. If you can become a solid analyst, reverser, or anything else in the malware research space you will pretty much be all set. Corporate infosec is a little different, I just kind of stumbled in to it.

>Now I'm bored with software engineering, transitioned in to a corporate information security role to take a break

Doesn't this mean that you're dealing with Windows security problems all the time? That sounds like pure hell; I think I'd rather work as a janitor.

not really, I'm not in the desktop support group. I'll help with implementation of some cool security suites across our whole infrastructure (servers + workstations), but I'm not in a desktop support queue or anything.

Still doing application architecture, cloud architecture/etc... for a couple of our groups as well, which is a nice change sometimes.

Is there a makerspace/hackerspace nearby you?

Two actually. One mainly for tech stuff, and another for traditional crafts.

Ah very cool. Not sure if yours are similar, but the one near me has stuff for electronics, wood and metal working shops, a machine shop, rapid prototyping (laser engraver, 3d printers, CNC routers, ...) and lots of really quite smart and friendly people willing to help you out. It's a great way to "get back in the game" as it were, without needing the space/resources to acquire all the tools. Sometimes you need to take a certification class before they'll let you touch the expensive/dangerous tools, but that's really not so unreasonable. At least in my experience, once you get to know the staff and prove yourself, you can usually get away with more, like, say, teaching kids how to do things even though their insurance probably only allows 18+.

Definitely worth checking out; oftentimes you can call ahead/show up and they'll give you a tour around the place.

Running my company for 15 years instead of for 10.

After the crash of 2008 it was clear that revenues were plunging and the situation was dire.

I could have shut it down right then and there and left on a high note.

Instead I slashed my own pay and applied a Herculean effort to keep the firm alive...only to shut it down anyway 5 years later.

That was five years of my life that I have nothing to show for.

Know when to walk away.

The following quote comes to mind: “One of the hardest decisions you'll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.”

Equally valid for relationships, of course.

I blame myself for 90% of the bad decision, and Seth Godin and his "The Dip" theory for the other 10%.

I keep telling myself that I should apply game theory investment rules on all decisions but it's hard for me to do that in practice, and I know I'm not be the only one with this problem. Our optimistic side does not always eagerly leave the helm to the pragmatic side, but I think this is both a gift and a curse.

Things always appear to happen for a reason in my life. I postponed college to work in an architects office, a job I got during high school. I developed some software for the owner which we began to sell. The secretary embezzled from us and I am let go.

Five years later the boss and I re-unite. At this time I'm going back to college to study computer science. We plan on rebooting the company, but in order to keep my day job I was forced to pursue my Master's Degree. So we part ways again.

I go off and study at The University of Michigan, a school I would have never gotten into had life not gone the way they did. I graduate with a degree in Industrial Design and spend the next decade doing User Experience design. But not very happily. At the age of 45 I have a yolo moment of enlightenment and decide to go back to school to study Computer Science...again. I never really stopped programming and I DID REGRET not pursuing this life-long passion. School is...too easy and I'm not being pushed, so I quit and continued moving forward learning on my own.

One day, I'm driving down the street and I spy the company logo of my former boss on the side of a building, 20+ years since I left him. I walk in the door and the first words out of his mouth was my name, with a question mark attached to the end. I look at the empty desk beside him and think, "That is my desk!" The next day we are business partners in a new venture. Apparently, he had been working from home the last 25 years, doing very well for himself. But the software that we set out to create back in 1988 has always been a ghost that has haunted us both. So he left the comfort of his home, bought a building, renovated it, hired and trained employees, for the SOLE PURPOSE OF TRACKING ME DOWN SO WE COULD FINISH WHAT WE STARTED.

It is so easy to live life with regret. It is so easy to question our choices and cry at our lack of good fortune. I've learned over the years that things happen to me for a reason. All of the choices, both good and bad, brought me to this moment. There were no accidents. I could easily look back at my life and regret MANY things, but I don't.

And even if this new partnership goes awry, there will be a reason for this as well.

Well, that sounds like a movie script right there.

I regret choosing an elite university (Oxford) and its ultra-generic Engineering course, rather than a more specific course in say, electronics or even maths but at a less prestigious institution. I came out with a paper-thin knowledge of a dozen engineering subdisciplines, rather than truly knowing any one of them. Many of my peers became accountants, many others quickly became 'project managers' - spreadsheet jockeys. I cannot think of any who actually became engineers. Like others, this frustration has led me into a life of continuous learning.

Funny, I regret going to a plain state-funded university and wish I would have taken college applications more seriously to take a shot at a more prestigious school. I think a lot of doors would have opened earlier for me had I done so. Successful people get there because of their network and connections not because of their knowledge and skills.

If you're a regular on this site, prestigious schools are mostly bullshit. They're not good places to go for an engineering degree, except MIT and Caltech maybe (and even then they're really not the greatest places to go for a BS).

If you're a politician or trying to become a corporate high-up, then yes, the network and connections you make at the prestigious schools are extremely useful. But someone who's a CEO or VP of a hedge fund or whatever is not going to be a regular on this site.

If you want a career where you're valued for your knowledge and skills, good state schools are the place to go. If you want a career where you're valued for your network and connections, ivy league schools are the place to go.

In a similar vain, I don't regret "choosing" a non-elite uni (Oxford Brookes) which let me miss lectures and tutorials for 3 years, tinker with my own code all day, showing up only for exams and the final year project ("thesis"-wannabe-thingy) for a proper B.Sc. graduate degree. I did sometimes go to Ox open lectures and such, loved the overall high-brow intellectual vibe in town back then (2002-2005). But the workloads and schedules of my acquaintances there, oh my!

I regret spending time studying that I could have spent programming. I found my study boring and in the end wasted a few years of my life and quite a bit of money that I would have otherwise saved. I also believe I learned much more in the workplace. And when I want to study a topic that is of interest to me, I rather just buy a book.

I also regret spending around 7 years of my life without really sure which path I would like to take. I lost direction and focus when my parents died unexpectedly. In this period I was very depressed. I had to figure out my own life goals, when my previous goal, making my parents proud, wasn't possible anymore.

At least now I have some clear goals for my life and am generally a very happy person :)

> I also regret spending around 7 years of my life without really sure which path I would like to take.

Sorry for your loss. I've spent 15 years feeling the same. It's tough, but I'm grateful to still have hope, mostly thanks to having a large amount of what could be called non-professional interests. If not for discovering the endless value of, and joy in, non-institutionalized learning, I'd have been a goner a long time ago.

Yeah, to have a goal will make one happy and stronger.

I regret getting my first credit card, which ultimately led to my first breakup after my first proper relationship. It also led to a bunch of personal debt (a lot of which I've cleared, some I still have).

But if I hadn't, who knows how that would've affected later life - would I have ever met my now wife? Or would I be living somewhere else and working somewhere else? Would I have some of the cool stuff I have?

Your first credit card led to your first breakup? Was that really the only factor?

Getting bounced out of the Air Force. I should have fought it, should have held my ground and proved I was being set up. I had a witness willing to stand behind me, but my 19 year old idiot of a self said fuck this. That was in 1983. I have a great life, but it still hits, that regret of walking away.

Grew up in the Chicago suburbs, then went to school in Troy, NY, then founded a startup in Boston. Now I'm starting to feel like Switzerland is the next destination, and while it feels like a more permanent move than the others, I wonder where I would be if I had not moved at all.

I'd probably be a more stout Christian, my economic class would almost certainly be lower. I'd probably have a lot more friends. Moving has a huge social cost and I've paid it twice. I'd probably be happier in daily life.

But I'd also probably feel like a big fish in a small pond. Like I had let down my potential. If I was in that position, I'd probably regret not leaving for college more than I currently regret leaving.

So I don't actually regret the price I've paid. But I do reflect on it frequently.

Plenty of non-devout or non-religious people in the Chicago suburbs area. Unless you're talking about Wheaton. But even then, there's a few.

Personally I think internet forums had a greater effect on that for me than relocating (I actually moved to the Chicago suburbs about ten years ago).

Definitely agree about the more friends, though. That's a big thing that's making me reluctant to leave, is how many friends I've made here.

The job market here could be a lot better though. Most of the tech jobs are in downtown Chicago, and even then it seems it's mostly in advertising, which I loathe and would rather not work in.

Interesting that you mention the impact moving had on your faith. I moved to Switzerland when I was a teenager and wholly attribute that to my loss of faith.

Easily my biggest regret is that I didn't come out as gay until I was already 20 years old (in 1994), basically staying in the closet for 7 years.

The great Aussie Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe didn't come out until around 32 years old, so you did okay compared to him!

Not only that, there's a bunch of Republican politicians who still refuse to admit they're gay, including that "wide stance" Craig guy who was caught in the airport bathroom.

Taking the path of least resistance. 1) Applying to only one uni 2) Taking the first job I was offered out of college

Hard to think of anything particularly bad, but my main regret is not speaking up in favour of a more intellectually competent environment at my previous startup fund.

I seemed to be the only person keeping an eye on developments in the wider field, machine learning, coding, investment strategy, that kind of thing.

I was working with people who didn't even know what version control was, or that we actually used it. Sloppy thinking that was mistakable for expediency in the early days turned into pure intellectual laziness.

The same people had and still have a completely unrealistic view of what they've built. No real understanding of markets, no real understanding of coding, and no real understanding of how to run a business.

I've moved on now, but I feel there was more potential there, and it should have been used to build a truly amazing investment firm. Instead I allowed my colleagues to continue thinking they were excellent when they genuinely weren't, robbing them and us of the chance to improve ourselves.

It's hard telling people they're not up to a task.

I regret I still can't get passport of civilized country because I left university (and don't have degree now). As an immigrant, I have less rights than refugee, despite I'm not going to get any social payments and take workplaces (I'm a freelancer).

Not acknowledging my ADHD until I was 31. I'm 33 and finally understand why my mind completely shuts down when I have multiple tasks, why I run from challenges when pressed hard, why I failed classes multiple times despite understanding the material, why I always thought of myself as lazy and why I would have bouts of depression every time I tried my hardest at accomplishing a task. I've wasted so many years in a state of wonder at other people's lives - going on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and reading about the great things people have accomplished, daydreaming that I wasn't a lazy bastard. It's also affected my hobbies - reading, writing and playing guitar. I just can't focus on anything for extended periods of time. My songs are disparate parts cobbled together. My writing is a bunch of snippets. If I read I go crazy and can't stop, if I start and get interrupted I never finish.

Not doing more math. It seems like programming is very easy to learn whereas math science is very difficult.

It depends a lot on yourself. Math is really like a sport, I was doing it each and every day as part of a Physics/Mathematics major. Whereas in the same class that I was in, many people passed calculus, linear algebra etc, but failed programming courses.

Programming might be easier to get into though

I regret spending years trying to make others (parents, siblings, others) around me happy & conform to their ideals / wishes, instead of trying to make myself happy.

I regret following their advice getting married to someone I already knew at the time I didn't fully want to get married to, then having kids because that's what everyone else felt was right for me. And I "regret" meeting other people who I know would make me happier, but not knowing how to get out of my present position, without making a ton of people (incl. little people) unhappy in the process...

(and hopefully I'm not going to regret not having posted this under a throwaway account)

Not having a passion or drive. I've pretty much floated my way through life, and I'm still not happy with what I'm doing. I don't know why, but I'm not...and I don't know what to do to fix it, or if it's even a real, actual problem and I'm not just imagining it.

Working with the same company for nearly 10 years without a career path. Thankfully its over now but I should have done it earlier.

Quitting jobs.

I've quitted jobs without letting my employer that I was unhappy or disgruntled. In retrospect I should have let them know before I jumped ship; mainly because the grass is rarely greener on the other side and some of them could have changed.

I wouldn't regret that. Your career is your own responsibility and nobody else's. It's unlikely your past employers would have tried to retain you if you told them you were unhappy or disgruntled--at least I've never seen it happen. I've found through many jobs: if you think leaving is the right decision, it is.

I think it is unlikely that an organization would change for you (or anyone), so there is not much to regret.

I guess one could try to create one's dream job within one company, but it would be a long and ongoing fight, not just a matter of talking with the boss.

Most things I regret I would later learn were for the best, for that is how I met my wife. I like the area that I live in and can say things leading up to this point were for the better.

There is only one true regret that I have. We weren't sure how the ceremony should go when my grandpa passed. I didn't like that there was confusion about what to do, the whole situation just wasn't going right. I didn't want us to just sit there without any sort of progression.

In the most idiotic move of my entire life, I agree, with the guy managing the place, that we should place the box and toss a little dirt on it. My grandma picked up the box. As she approached the grave, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this was a bad idea. It was only about 3 steps away so I didn't have much time to think it through.

When I saw her place that box in the grave... I mean she was just crushed. I was about 22 at the time, so I should have known better. As a more mature adult, I cringe thinking about it. Why on earth did I let her do that on her own. I'll never know, but I will always regret that moment in both of our lives.

A couple of years ago I was misdiagnosed with lung cancer. It was only a preliminary diagnosis from an x-ray, but after several nodes were circled on my chart with “malignancy suspected” written next to them, I thought I had late stage cancer with weeks to live. What else could it be?

It turned out to be histoplasmosis shotgunned through my lung system, but for about 3 weeks while I underwent further testing, I was preparing to die.

At the time I wished I would have spent more of my life giving to others. I also wished I was more financially prepared; my kids, who would take care of them? I would never see their weddings or even graduation. How would they go to college? And for those of you reading this who really are in that situation, my heart goes out to you. For me it was a nightmare I could wake from, at least for now.

Anyway, after I found out it wasn’t terminal, my perspective on priorities shifted in a major way. One thing in particular was focused on technology. I sat back and realized what a stooge I’ve been over the years. As a developer, one thing I always detested was chasing the latest tech, always trying to decipher the tea leave to make sure I wasn’t out of work in 5 years when the wind changed direction. Feeling not much more than a pawn to large tech companies.

I realized I had so many unexplored areas that I wanted to research that were slipping away, and would always slip away if I didn’t do something about it.

So I did. I now spend my free time diving into areas that I find interesting and have even reached back in time to finish a project that I dared not before. Funny thing is, I’m still learning new things (some a complete waste of time), yet I’m much happier doing it and I’m building a new world around me while discovering new interests at the same time.

I don't know that I "regret" anything. I do sometimes wonder what life would have been like if I had made different choices but most of it is just "the grass is always greener on the other side."

I wonder if I should have went into a different career path instead of currently being an adjunct professor. If I would have went in a totally different path I could be making more money now but I don't know if I would be happier.

I wonder what would have happened if I had taken one high school teaching job instead of the one I did take that I hated so much that I quit after one semester. Of course I could have hated that job too and it would have required moving so I would have been much worse off if I wanted to quit it.

I'm also 40+ and single, never married so of course I wonder what would have happened if I had asked out woman X instead of being hung up on woman Y. But then I could be divorced and a parent or something (I don't want kids).

So no real regrets. Things could always be worse on the other side!

>I'm also 40+ and single, never married so of course I wonder what would have happened if I had asked out woman X instead of being hung up on woman Y. But then I could be divorced and a parent or something (I don't want kids).

You don't have to not want kids for this to be a big problem. Being divorced with kids is a gigantic PITA, even if you love kids. I have a female friend like this (I tried dating her but she didn't want to be anything more than "just friends"); she really has NO free time. I'm not really sure why she even bothers maintaining an OKC profile; it took me 3 months of exchanging dozens of messages to get her to meet me for a coffee date! She couldn't even stay long there because she had to get back to her parents to pick up her kid. (She wrote back after the date and said we "weren't a match"; I have no idea why and I really don't want to ask her).

Anyway, point is, if you're divorced with kids and have custody, you will have NO free time for anything, including more dating, until the kids are at least 10 years old. That's a really big commitment, and a big risk considering the divorce rates these days.

Worse yet, this woman's kid seems a little autistic and has some really odd behavioral issues. Good luck getting a decent man to want to jump into that situation...

It seems to me that maybe people should be required to take some kind of classes to help identify good relationship partners when they're young, because most of these cases seem to be the result of people picking absolutely awful partners for relationships, and then popping out a kid or two before they finally throw in the towel. This girl (well, woman, she's almost 40 now) had all kinds of horror stories to tell about her sociopathic ex that she had met in college.

Having kids is really a giant commitment and a gigantic risk. It's no wonder educated and professional people aren't bothering with it very much; by the time they get situated well enough in their careers, get their student loans paid off and get financially stable, and then get through the dating process and manage to find someone they really like and are confident they're a solid long-term partner, they're too old biologically to have kids! All the people I see having kids these days are in their early 20s, blue collar or military and not college educated, and they're usually having kids out of wedlock, and not even staying together after the kid is born. I honestly feel really sorry for kids growing up these days.

I Regret:

1. Accepting what was in front of me at the time, at the cost of my own deeper/real identity, and not just waiting it out. I should have believed more strongly in my core values, including that belief that life is infinite and this birth/lifetime is one amongst many and even if I don't find anyone to share it with in a committed relationship, even then it is worth living and can be shared with other humans in other ways.

2. Associating certain laudable qualities with a minority religious-ethnic group and then assuming all members of that group would have those qualities, totally ignoring the fact that humans are complicated and diverse and different shades of psychopath (even when its is no fault of theirs!).

3. Assuming that my good behavior towards someone's family would be reciprocated towards my family. I arrived at the following equation:

If you don't like A's (say, a man) behavior towards B (a woman), then if you are (say) a man, do NOT behave towards any woman, as B (a woman) behaved with A (a man). Otherwise, you are setting yourself up to be treated by the woman as A (a man) treated B (a woman)! Why would you do this in the first place, you ask? Perhaps, out of a sense of righting a social injustice, perhaps thinking that feminism means that you (a man) has to make-up and pay for your gender's injustice to the other gender by letting the historically exploited gender get away with unfair and atrocious behavior (or specifically, behavior far less equal to yours).

4. Ignoring the big blazing (in retrospect), warning signs in people's behavior and actions that I would (could/should) have heeded if were not thinking with tunnel-vision.

Plenty of things I can go on and on about ....


Ask me what I don't regret? That's a list for another day (when I feel gratitude!).

I regret dedicating my life to sitting behind a computer building things that don't exist and don't really matter to anyone - rather than making a real difference to real people in the real world. I also regret that that endeavor has severely limited my time spent with the people I love most, and exploring the world.

What would class as a real difference?

Since I changed my view, also due to HN, I found there is little left to regret. I mostly give the best I can in every aspect of my life. And when that wasn't enough I will probably do better next time. If there is a risky decision ahead I try to be aware of it and the details and use it as learning experience. Living that way mostly gives every decision, every success and every failure a meaning. And having meaning means there is not much reason to regret it.

Btw: currently I'm without a job, about $15k in depth and will probably spend the next 3 years paying off these debts without any holiday or much improvement of life quality. Yet it was only painful for a few weeks and I was able to move on. And who knows, the next role of dice may end up giving me unexpected luck and next year looks very different already.

I regret listening to naysayers in my 20s. Whatever your dream or ambition may be, there will be people telling you that you will fail when they have no idea whether you will or not. They just want to stop you from trying it seems.

I wish I could have powered through instead of taking their "advice" to heart.

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.' [Nietzsche, The Gay Science, §341]


We all make mistakes, but I am happy with my decisions in life. Even the setbacks were valuable learning experiences, and often were good experiences.

"Even the setbacks were valuable learning experiences, and often were good experiences."

Unless these said setbacks have permanent, unassailable bad consequences that you have to live with. Add here "that others have to live with" which is worse by any normal socio-empathetic judgment. It's good to be optimistic, but there is larger set of contexts you should be aware of.

I don't disagree,but I'll also caution that you don't know me, and I think it is fair to say I've had some objectively horrible things happen to myself and those I love.

But years later, I do believe that negative experiences are part of the human condition. One certainly should not seek them out, but stoicly accepting both the good and the bad is part of being a mortal.

Some of my regrets. - not brushing my teeth when I was a kid (not really my fault though). I'm paying the price now - I was very good at maths when I was an undergraduate. I had to choose between applied maths and CS. I chose CS but I think it gave me lesser career opportunities. And it's easier to learn CS on the side as a hobby (it's constantly evolving so you have to do it anyway). - I didn't pick the right PhD topic. It seemed cool at the time, but it was a niche field with little practical application. - I should have done my MS abroad (but I was afraid that my English wasn't good enough, among other things).

Overall, I didn't really know what was possible at the time. I was only looking at step "N+1" and missing the big picture.

I'd hate to change my past as I'm very happy with my present and would never want to jeopardize it. Likewise, a lot of "mistakes" have been excellent learning experiences for me, which makes them hard to regret.

That said, my biggest regrets have mainly to do with staying in relationships longer than I should have. I'd done this twice, and both times I walked away drained and depressed. The women were wonderful in their own ways, but we just plain didn't work and I shouldn't have tried to force it, and definitely not for as long as I had.

Now, though, I'm happily married with someone I'm excited to spend every day with, and I assume I learned quite a bit from those relationships to be able to enjoy and appreciate this one.

Ouch! Been there myself, staying in some relationships longer than I should have and leaving drained. To counter that, I've said "no" to the last 4-5 single women who have entered my life because I don't want to try something (relationship) just to try it, and more importantly they just didn't feel like the right match for me. Old me would have said yes to a few of them, but I'm more patient with myself now.

Good to know the happy ending, though. Congrats!

Not maintaining friendships.

I'm sociable and confident and I have never found it hard to make friends, in almost any context. When it comes to actually maintaining those friendships, I am simply awful at it - it often takes me months to reply to messages, and when I do, the platitudinous "We must meet up soon" never even translates to so much as my glancing at a calendar to work out when that "soon" might be.

I sometimes wonder if I would be better at maintaining friendships if initially making them didn't come to me so easily, or whether the kind of people I find it so easy to make friends with are, in fact, simply also people just like me (ie. they are awful at maintaining friendships too). Both seem quite plausible.

Guess I'm not alone who isn't good at this. But i now have realized that you have to very few set of close friends than like 20 acquaintances(i know it sounds obvious) and i never miss an opportunity to meet them no matter how busy i'm with the work.

Yes. I think having two or three very close friends whom you see often is vastly preferable to having fifteen or twenty friends you rarely see (the "see often" bit is probably the biggest challenge, especially once you have children).

Conversely, I have found in business that having an endless stream of acquaintances with whom you are on vaguely friendly terms is extremely beneficial.

Not dancing earlier. I was a better dancer than my sisters and used to go watch them do ballet, but my mum wouldn't let me because I was a boy. Currently doing a bunch of jazz and commercial a few days a week in between running a company and other gym activities.

My wife is really into her dancing, and before I met her, I never cared for the likes of anything I considered 'girly'.

People really need to hear the story of Billy Elliot (my favourite musical - another thing I would never have bothered with, previously) and the life of Carlos Acosta (who I was watching on Parkinson just last night).

Good luck with your dancing, and don't let others put you off.

Speaking up when I should have kept my mouth shut.

Keeping my mouth shut when I should have spoken up.

Giving in to the wrong impulses.

Failing to act on the right impulses.

Missed opportunities to be kind or helpful or compassionate.

Hurting people.

- Not completing my Bachelor's, even if it wasn't a field remotely useful for computer science

- Not going in for professional help with my depression. I thought I could fix it myself, that I should be able to fix it myself, and thus I prolonged it by years. By the time a dear friend sensibly convinced me to go, I thought I had fixed it, but I had constant nightmares, couldn't sleep longer than a few minutes, and had thoroughly misdiagnosed the cause of my depression that would have guaranteed its lifelong power over me.

And then after therapy, after I got well, and fell again. And I didn't go. I regret not seeking help.

Personal regrets:

* Fighting with my parents when I was younger by refusing to learn to speak Polish(felt like it was too much homework and for little gain)

* Not recognizing earlier that my mother wasn't going to live past 42 with stage III / IV colon cancer(granted, I was 16 / 17 and I was kept in the dark)

Career regrets:

* Not trying harder in school. I feel like I should be doing a lot better in life than I am.

Not regrets / silver linings:

* Because of the above though, I learned to appreciate how little time we really have in life, and to really appreciate and love those whom we have in our lives, along with appreciating the value of learning, too.

Easy! To have invested too much time in Computer Science.

A bit of context: I'm born physically disabled, my parents fight to make me follow a 'normal' education. When I was 9 I realized that if one day I wanted to have a normal life I should be good at something. Since I was already spending 12 hours a day on my computer (to take my school lessons and to play with my friends) I decided to become a developper. 15 years later I'm triply graduated in computer science, I know a lot of things in nearly all major fields of CS and I have a good position in an important digital security company. I'm recognized by my peers and valuated by my hierarchy. I intensively tried to date for two years. First regular women, but I was massively rejected for obvious reasons. Then, disabled women, but I just can't because there's a too big educational/societal gap. I don't regret all the feelings I had doing CS stuff, even if it was just the illusion of pleasure to learn and master stuff. I only regret to, at one point, have confused my goal and how to reach it. Everything has a price, I was sure I was able to pay it, but now, I know I wasn't able to.

If I had to do a thing differently, I would leave 'normal' school when I was 9, my life would have been a lot easier.

I'm far happier now, I only do things that give me an immediate rewards and I'm here for my friends who have been patient enough to wait for me all these years.

Sex: I regret not having a lot more intimacy and sex during my twenties.

Friendships: I regret not keeping closer ties with my old high school friends. Since then, we've taken very different paths, but I still feel like they're the only ones who ever 'got' me.

Fear: I regret allowing social anxiety and shyness to prevent me from connecting with many interesting people that I've met over the years.

Embarrassment: I regret spending my life trying to be 'productive' and 'socially acceptable' rather than following my heart.

Well, I regret two things. One personal, one slightly less so.

On the personal side, I regret not meeting more people and focusing more on networking at university. Indeed, back when I was studying for my degree, I pretty much did nothing at university other than study the subject and go home.

Unfortunately, I seem to have found out later that university now (compared to the outdated ideas your parents have about it) is more about meeting people who can help you out later in life than it is about getting a piece of paper called a degree.

I feel that if I had known that, I could have potentially got better jobs afterwards (by knowing someone with connections in a larger or more successful company) or found a team to help with founding a startup, website or other venture.

I also regret (as presumably do a lot of other people) not learning to code/program earlier. Because like learning a language, it seems like learning to program is easier at a younger age, when your brain is more flexible.

Either way, because I didn't (beyond HTML, CSS and Javascript), it meant I had to learn an awful lot when I started working as a web developer, and hence found it quite difficult to grasp even some of the simpler aspects of programming (like basic foreach and switch statements).

So yeah, those are my regrets in life. Not learning to code while young and treating university as if the degree mattered more than the networking and connections.

It's very hard to second guess things in life - if you're happy with how things have worked out in general, it's near impossible to say what contributed and what hurt.


1 - I was quite a jerk in some relationships when I was in college and soon thereafter. I didn't need to be.

2 - I regret not forcing my way overseas earlier in life.

3 - I regret not paying attention to subjects outside of Computer Science earlier in life.

4 - I regret not achieving wealth soon enough in life to take care of my parents better.

I was quite a jerk in the teenage years and regretted that too until not long ago. I come to convince myself that turning into a jerk was only an adapting reaction to fend off abusive people. From what I've noticed in the pool of abuse-avoiders friends, the ones having enough social skills maybe managed to deal with it gracefully enough, but for the others (me included) being a plain jerk was the simplest working solution. If you still beat yourself over it it may be because you just forget the problems and limitations you had back then.

In my case it was more around dating. It was more about being immature on my part than any issues on anyone else's. (If it was being defensive, that's more conscionable than being a jerk who didn't think enough about others)

I mostly regret not starting sooner with something.

Lifting weights, playing guitar/bass, programming, polyamory, remote working, saving money, studying for school.

Could you expand on the polyamory part? Are you in a polyamorous relationship?

Seems pretty self-explanatory.

In most places in the world, we are raised to pursue monogamous relationships, whether that is predicated on the idea of "true love", or just the need to "settle down and start a family". Either way - monogamy.

In reality, a lot of people aren't happy with monogamy. See the extreme prevalence of cheating/divorce. I'm not OP, but I think the world would be a much happier place if everyone stopped trying to be so monogamous all the time.

If someone prefers monogamy, they can find someone that also prefers monogamy. But society in general shouldn't be trying to dictate that.

I agree completely, however there are practical problems to being polyamorous, namely in finding partners. This is a common complaint if you read poly discussion forums: couples decide to open their relationship, and pretty soon the woman is banging men left and right, while the man can't even find a single new partner.

I'm over 40 now, and somewhat recently divorced so I've been on the dating market for a couple of years or so. I explored poly a bit while still married (wife didn't mind, we got divorced for other reasons), but it didn't go farther than a few coffee-dates. Now that I've been single, I've had to drop the poly stuff altogether if I want to get a date at all; there simply are not any poly-accepting women in the major east coast city I live in, in this age range. Perhaps it's a little better on the west coast. I do see couples in open marriages more and more on Tinder and OKC, but it's still puny, plus most poly women I see online are eclectic in the extreme (and thus would not be interested in me, or vice versa).

Poly seems like a pretty good relationship choice if you're under 30, because that crowd is so much more accepting of alternative lifestyles. If you're over 40, I think you might as well just resign yourself to monogamy and cheating/divorce. Probably best to avoid marriage if you can, just hop from relationship to relationship.

I'm living polyamorous for about 7 years now and currently I'm in two poly relationships for about 3 years each.

When I'm thinking about it now, I'm living poly (8 years) for longer in my life than mono (4 years). I'm 31 and started dating with 19. So not much to regret, I guess. Most poly folks I know started with >40, when the kids finally were out.

Wasting 3 years of my life doing a PhD

I'm just starting one that will take at least 4.5 years, but I'm coming in with a BSc. May I ask why you ended up regretting it?

At least it was only 3 years. Could have been much more.

Pity. I was going to post that my regret was not getting a PhD.

Would you mind expanding on that?

I regret not structuring my life earlier. There is no way to accomplish something being carefree. It requires planning and dedication.

I very much regret not working hard in school in order to spend the rest of my life doing something more intellectually stimulating. I also regret not reading more in my 20s and 30s.

I very much do not regret getting married and having kids, and I also do not regret consistently prioritizing my family over the artificial daily panics of software development projects.

I regret totally blowing off studying math after my junior year of high school and never studying CS at all in school. I've filled in a lot of the gaps but it would have been easier then.

But then again, it's hard to say, isn't it? My life would have turned out differently if I hadn't made the choices I have and overall I'm pretty happy.

I was studying my electrical engineering and as all the other Engineering students,I was searching for internships then.My interest was mainly in Electromagnetism and Field theory. I was really hoping for an internship at CERN[1]. I had applied for the same and did not get through.I then kept asking the professors there and tried selling myself quite a bit. I finally got one of them to accept me .However the required fee was atleast 4x what I could afford.As a result I could not go there. Considering the quality of education in Indian colleges and the lack of credible practical experience,I had to forgo those dreams in the field and take up some typical consultancy (like TCS but not TCS) job. This was the first time I had taken up programming(I refused to take it earlier because i considered the field over saturated and highly ephemeral(Boy o boy I was wrong )) .I enjoyed software development .I enjoyed the complete open nature of it and the speed and how helpful people were on the online community (compare stackoverflow and Electrical Engineering SE[2]) . I realised that I loved this work and I was glad that this happened.

My point is this : We are no different from really capable Branch Prediction engines [3]. Every regret stems from an If. We learn along the way.I personally keep a list of all the things I regret which I always go through before making the next important decision in my life .

I also regret not doing my Masters immediately after my graduation.I hope to do that soon too.

[1]:https://jobs.web.cern.ch/join-us/short-term-internship-progr... [2]:http://electronics.stackexchange.com/ [3]:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12340348

> I mainly regret not taking university seriously half a lifetime ago, but as a result I became a lifelong self-learner.

Can you please expand on this? Why do you regret that?

I've read a great book about this topic: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. It's a bit more general of course, but it might be interesting to you or others.

Well, I'm hoping that even if I went to uni that I would have still become a lifelong learner because I'm naturally curious and a bit cynical. Believing that I would have come to the same conclusion in life, having a uni degree in my back pocket would have made me feel a lot better about myself all through my 20s and some of my 30s. Like when applying for jobs in a specific field instead of taking service jobs, growing my professional abilities in said field, having a regular paycheck.

Thanks for the recommendation!

I regret being hard headed in a lot of my decisions. About accepting more mentorship, more critique, more guided challenge, and more help in general, especially when these weren't that expensive in terms of commitment and moral debt. This might be hypocrite because I'm enjoying the various forms of my current frugally retained freedom (and kind of still look down on those with various burdens who acted reckless by my standards back then).

I also regret not taking better care of my health. Although I consider myself a fairly responsible individual in this regard and went to great lengths to avoid health issues on many aspects, I haven't managed to be careful enough and cover the entire ground here. Health issues are costly in a lot of ways, the extra care requirement being the worst for me.

I regret going back to school mid-career. The amount of money I spent on that, plus the amount I could have been making in industry, both compounded over time, is easily more than the return on going back to school. You really need to shift to a career track with a steeper compensation curve afterwards to make it worthwhile financially. If you graduate and go back to your previous "salary + cost of living increases every year" trajectory, you wasted your money and time.

On the other hand, education is worthwhile for its own sake, but that's only one part of the equation. If you're thinking about going back to school, do the math and probabilities first to ensure it will be worth it.

I regret deciding to major in a hard science instead of programming, as well as spending far too long in a PhD program before dropping out.

The personal and professional toll of these choices has been painful on the best days, soul-crushing on the worst.

Why oh why didn't I take Math/Physics seriously...

But the ones that I regret the most are those were I didn't say how I truly felt to the people that matter that most.

They are the ones, not the rejections or the failures, that gnaws on your soul.

Around 30 I started with surfing and dancing LindyHop. I should have done that 10 years earlier. Cannot stress enough how much more both activities added to my overall "outer" experience of life. The vibe, the people you meet and the places you go to are amazing. The social experience of these communities alone is such a positive influence.

The other aspect is more of an "inner" experience. Somehow in dancing and surfing, the connection of your body with your mind through music/nature of waves is, for a lack of a better term, opening up a new world.

Leaving strings class (or orchestra, whatever you wanna call it) after just 2 years. I was pretty good at it, but hated practicing as a teen.

A decade later and I wish I could play an instrument, still.

Came here to post a similar story. Played the piano for many years, hated practising and performing at recitals, eventually stopped complaining it was too much effort. Now I wish I had a solid foundation to build on as I've stared playing again. All that music theory and practising of scales would be really useful now.

Having said that, it's never too late to pick it up again!

I used to regret not finishing my degree, but I'm past that now.

I don't have many regrets but one that sticks out is not taking a team leading position when I was about 30. I am now over 50, happily working in a coding env, but I have no real experience of leadership which I feel is an element sorely missing from my professional experience.

But even that is minor. I feel very glad that I don't have the personal regrets that I've seen many others suffer. They are the most potentially damaging I believe.

I regret leaving my freelancing career 3 years ago to become a full-time employee. I made the decision out of fear because I had increased my standard of living and was afraid of not continuing to make enough money as a contractor to pay for it. My life has gone downhill ever since. Today however, I put in my two-week notice. I realize how unfounded my fears were and for the first time in a long time I finally feel like I'm in control of my life again.

It's taken me a long time to get to this point - but I regret going into this industry (I'm an SRE/backend engineer person).

I've found other passions on my journey so far, and I wish I could pursue them full-time. I'm trying. But frankly, it's hard to give up the money if I want to live in a big city and be able to adopt kids and be able to retire comfortably and not freak out when I inevitably have large medical expenses.

It's somewhat depressing.

Not coming out as transgender through fear about what other people might think.

Getting involved with religion.

Sticking with comfortable old technologies for too long (VB6) before moving on.

Not cracking procrastination.

For me it's starting real life with my first job at age 24 and not before. My parents were typical protective parents - they didn't let me struggle and achieve something on my own. Graduated with honors and went to MIT and so on - but i feel like I am still missing essential skills that would make me reach where I want, and the feeling that I didn't achieve much so far is keeping me awake every night for the past 3 years.

Never finishing songs I was writing while in the perfect position to pitch them to pop artists I was working with.

I switched to coding purely for monetary/pragmatic reasons. I'm doing ok professionally now, but feels like a sad half-existence. (Lot of other opportunities with things I cared about personally I squandered too.)

And you wonder why your father was so resigned. Now you don't wonder any more. - Ben Folds Lyric that comes to mind

Not socializing enough in college

I regret my constant procrastination.

I regret not getting the best domain names in my country while they were still available back in 1998, which would now provide for a comfortable life.

I regret not being able to persuade my wife to move somewhere to Spanish coast - like Valencia or Alicante. I hate winters so much.

I regret having so many regrets and insecurities and unanswered what-ifs in my head, not being just happy and awesome at all times instead.

Not getting enough sleep while I was in university.

I wish I had spent 10% of the time I used playing computer/video games in high school/college on learning to code instead.

Ah, I wish the same too.. spent so much time watching movies...

Not trying to get out sooner. Moving to a different country, and building a life there is a long, arduous, and lonely process, and I'm not even remotely close.

I'm 24 already, and I regret having to spend the best years of my life looking for a home, when people my age are making friends, finding relationships, and building memories.

I regret not having the same starting point.

I wouldn't worry about it. 24 is still very young, and many people never make that move. I'm moving to another country for the third time in ten years in a few hours. You'll make friends, build relationships and have a home.

I was literally just thinking about this. I regret not working harder in school and not taking it more seriously. I was just trying to get through it. Now, as an adult, there's a lot of schooling I wish that I had taken advantage of when I was younger instead of desiring to now as someone struggling to pay all their bills.

Not enough sex when I was still young enough.

It is definitely bizarre looking back. You can clearly see all of these opportunities to have a good shag with someone whose company you enjoyed when there appeared to be mutual attraction but they were passed up because you were both so wrapped up in insecurities.

41 here and totally agree. I got into a long term relationship at 20, and because of that I missed a lot of opportunities.

I eventually got a divorce at 30 (unrelated), and I had some great sex for a while but then got married again. While, I love my spouse, I think back on those moments of freedom and wildness often. Wish I had more memories of them.

Some tips (from the person who started late): Don't do one nighters - they're just not memorable long-term. Don't do it drunk - it dulls the memory. Don't do it just for the sex either - it's way, way more enjoyable when you're really into someone. And, don't waste time with people who have no passion or intuitiveness. If they can't kiss well or seem to lack interactivity, it's probably not worth it, no matter how much they may want you.

What if you can't ever find someone who truly likes you? Being a short and unnatractive male I've completely given up on dating or meeting someone who actually likes me. I've experienced so much negativity around my height and overall looks that it's just not worth it anymore.

Nowadays the only way I can have intimate relationships is via prostitutes; however I don't visit them often as I can see through their acting, for once I would like to have an intimate relationship with someone who is truly into me, but then I am 33 and my libido is fading (yay!) I know that I will regret not having sex in my 30's and 20's in my 40's but I feel powerless.

Not sure where you live, but it helps to live somewhere where the female / male ratio is high. For example, much of CA has a lot of males to females. I would probably never be able to get a date there, especially with all of the overly motivated men. But, the north east US is much the opposite. For example, I live in DC, and it's way easier to get a date here - almost too easy. Plus, women here are highly educated and appreciate smart men.

As far as how to find them, don't use dating services. It's way too hard for 'normal' guys to compete. Women get so much attention on those services that it boosts their expectations, and they become more selective. Instead, you have to go to the places that they go.

As for looks, put it in context. Unless you're in one of the high male areas (where competition naturally forces men to up their game), most men are pretty average looking. If you look around, I'm guessing you'll see lots of men who are in the middle. That's your baseline. And, if you can get 5-10% better, then it's remarkably more effective.

Studies have shown that perception of attractiveness changes when people get to know each other better (they rate each other more attractive). Most men are ugly anyway - and women see it as such, too. Their perception of male attractiveness follows a power law, whereas male perception of female attractiveness is a normal distribution. Meaning most women only consider few men attractive, whereas most men consider most women attractive.

As a man, if you can get the basics right (personal hygiene, good clothes), you are already in the top quantile. Bummer about the height, but there are also women who are not very tall.

>Bummer about the height, but there are also women who are not very tall.

Actually, I its the shorter women who have higher standards for male height, the most "harsh" rejections (due to height) have come from short women.

Taller women have been friendlier/more polite but at the end of the day I still get rejected.

Welcome to a man's life...

heh. Yea me too. I grew up in a country where they sexually repress people. That inertia kept me from having sex even after I immigrated to a more socially lenient society.

Out of curiosity ... how old are you right now?


because youre too told to enoy it now or because you are in a monogamous relationship now?

There's another possibility, when I was sixteen, I went to a very large highschool with approx three hundred sixteen year old girls so its not like I had a lack of opportunity, but for legal reasons and cultural attitudes toward age differences that very specific missed experience is now permanently inaccessible. Everything WRT that topic is good today, older women my age are very enjoyable ... but I obviously missed out on some fun, many years ago. You're only gonna be sixteen exactly once, for about 365 days, that's it.

So if you're 16 and want to have sex with someone who's 16 the only certain advice I can provide is you're not likely to stop wondering what it would have been like any time soon, and over time the odds very rapidly reach zero (roughly by the time you graduate HS?), so get out there while you can ... while avoiding diseases and pregnancies. Of course seeing as older, smarter, and far more experienced versions of yourself repeatedly manage to fail to avoid diseases and pregnancies remarkably often, maybe forever wondering is better than forever herpes/hiv or forever having kids while you were still a kid yourself.

Probably because you don't get any "fitter/healthier" when getting old. When you're in your 20s, you have more options (physically) then when you're in your 50s.


You need to ask your wife for an open marriage. Monogamous relationships are morally wrong IMO.

While I also think that humans are probably not built for monogamy, I'm not sure if it would really help much. We also have small children, so there is not much time to meet other people. And there is the issue of physical attractiveness. I am attracted to some women of my age, but more often to younger women. I shudder at the thought of what they might think of me (leery old guy...).

Serious suggestion. Assuming it is legal wherever you are consider periodic visits to a brothel. Attractive young ladies (or gentleman) whose job is providing convenient sex to people they probably wouldn't otherwise have sex with.

I have heard of couple's coming to an arrangement where the husband (it always seems to be the husband) goes once a month.

Similarly I have met divorced men who opt for brothels in place of pursuing other relationships. This decision typically seems to come after an expensive divorce when they do the math and realize that it may be cheaper to have sex with a parade of paid professionals Vs getting into another serious relationship and losing half their stuff again.

I am not morally opposed to brothels, but it doesn't appeal to me personally. Not yet, anyway - maybe the more older and disgusting I get, the more I will consider the option out of desperation (I hope not).

>Similarly I have met divorced men who opt for brothels in place of pursuing other relationships.

This is probably exactly why brothels are highly illegal in most places. Can't have people disrupting the social order...


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