The Doors of Opportunity and the Pain of Regret

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The doors of opportunity
Photo: Alice Popkorn

My Dad is almost 70 years old and plays cricket for Australia in the over 60’s team.

He recently came back from a cricket trip and Mum was telling me how well he still plays considering his age (shh..don’t tell him I’ve told you that). He plays against players who once wore the baggy greens many years ago in the Australian cricket side. They always comment on what a good player is now.

I asked Mum why Dad never played for Australia when he was younger. Mum said,

“Well, he didn’t really have anyone to guide him back then and as a result he never really saw the opportunities that were there for him.”

I wondered how my life would have been different had my father played for Australia when I was a young child. It made me stop and think about opportunities and regret and how this has been a huge part of my life over the past few years.

In 2007, I sat in my living room and wrote down some ideas about writing a book on how to travel the world, and having a blog and other websites to go along with it.

A massive door of opportunity opened up for me that day and I didn’t take it. I didn’t even try. I just thought, due to underlying fear and doubt, that I couldn’t do it. I closed the door on my dreams without even first researching to discover what I could do and how I could do it.

My excuse was that Lonely Planet had the market and how could I ever compete with that? Who would ever want to read my stories anyway?

I started to write the book, but it was more for me rather than for anyone else. I wrote it very sporadically and eventually stopped. I didn’t believe in myself. And so I went on with my life, growing more miserable by the day. I felt unfilled as I was not living my life on purpose.

The shit kept hitting the fan, until the one-day the Universe said

“Enough girl. Would you just goddam listen to me?” and cut off my Internet connection.

No one could explain what had happened to my computer, but I could not connect to the internet, which meant I could no longer waste time doing things that did not suit my purpose or lead me to my dream life.

With nothing else to do, I decided I might as well open up a word document and pick up where I left off a year ago on that travel book of mine.

During the time between 2007 at my kitchen table, and when the internet broke I had done a massive amount of work on myself.

I had spent two years looking deeply into who I was, what the experiences of my past meant, and who I wanted to be in the future.

I questioned, searched, discovered, and healed many scarred parts to me. I guess now I was ready to believe in myself. I walked confidently through the door. I started to see what I could do and finally began building what I dreamed in 2007.

Regret

When I look at the quick success we have had with y travel blog, and I think about how back then it was virtually an open playing field with no travel bloggers. I can see just where we could be sitting now.

I feel the sharp pain of regret. It slashes at my insides from my heart down to my stomach and I want to kick myself over and over again and hang my head in shame.

How could I have been so blind and stupid?

I think of all I lost in the process of discovering my purpose and believing in myself enough to just do it, and I want to cry.

Fear and insecurity stole nearly three years of my life. Three years I did not live well. Three years that I can never ever get back. And it’s all my fault.

Regret, my greatest emotional enemy, eats away at me. I hate knowing that I have missed opportunities, and that I have not made every moment count.

Look for the Rainbows

I’ve learned how to hold my head up now, in all times of crisis.

With your head down, you can’t see clearly what you need to do. And so in these moments, you must pick up your head and see what the purpose of those lost years were, when you closed the doors on opportunities that were made just for you and your dreams.

It is never too late.

The greatest tragedy would be if I never did it at all. Maybe in 2007, I just was not ready and if I started it may have gone all pear-shaped and I could have lost the dream completely. Everything truly does happen for a reason, and I am patiently waiting to discover what the reason for those lost years were.

And maybe my Dad wasn’t ready to play cricket for Australia, all those years ago, but now he is. Maybe the regret he suffered was there to teach him a lesson. The reward of his dream now made all the more sweeter by all those hard years of dreaming, and planning, and training.

The only thing I can take from this is that the sacrifices made, and the total commitment to improve myself for three years, means now I can offer so much more. And in that offering, reclaim ten times more than I lost. And that is what keeps me moving through those doors, believing it’s possible and knowing that I deserve it.

It’s better to close the door on regret and open it for the opportunities.

Close the door on fear and insecurity and just do it.

Sure you won’t know everything, and you’ll fail along the way – many times. But this is how we learn; this is how we progress and this is the only path that will take you to the achievements of your dreams.

 

42 thoughts on “The Doors of Opportunity and the Pain of Regret”

  1. Caz, this post really grabbed me. I can so totally related to the regret and insecurities and doubt. I’ve lived my life like that for far too long and I’m finally realizing I need to change and just go for what scares me. That regret is horrible, knowing you can’t go back and change things, but at the very least I think that missed opportunity and regret serves as a reminder for the future to always go for it despite the doubts and fear. I hope your book works out for you, I’m sure there are tons of people who would love to read it!

  2. Another great inspiring post, Caz. I have so many past regrets in my life, which are mostly related to career. I always wanted to be a journalist when I was younger, for example. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and won local and national awards for my writing and the quality of the paper back then. I dreamed of going to Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. I think I definitely had the grades and background to get accepted. But I listened to my father who told me I’d never make any money as a journalist and would struggle. Who knows? Only now over a decade later am I getting back into writing and did my masters in media to get back into the field. I haven’t done much with it yet, just did a writing internship at The Age and started a travel blog, but at least I’m on the right path. I still love writing and research. I want to see where I can go with it.

    All kinds of things can hold us back in life. Internal and external voices plague us. You are not alone in this. But good on you for doing it now and congrats on your success! Who knows why things turn out the way they do but as you’ve said here, I like to think that there is a reason for everything.

    1. Thank you Andrea. Isn’t life amazing how it brings you back full circle. Your story definitely highlights how you cannot quieten the voice of your passions. Your passions show you just what it is you were born to do. You are doing what you love and you don’t know where your current writing work will take you, but it will definitely take you somewhere special. There really is no other choice.

  3. This is so great! It’s so similar in concept to the latest personal post I wrote on my site http://bit.ly/aCrG2U about following the right path even if it seems to late … because it’s never too late.

    It’s easy to let oneself be held back in life but the easier choice is rarely the one that reaps the most reward! I always enjoy your posts and look forward to following along as you close the door to regret and open it to opportunity!! Congratulations! It’s truly never too late.

    1. Romantic love is not the only currency of joy. Seeing the world, pointing a spotlight with my photography and writing to the places on our planet that need more attention, expanding my world view by experiencing other cultures – this is what will, and has already begun to, bring back my appetite for life and happiness.

      Beautiful! I love this quote from your blog entry. Truly shows the joy that travel can bring. Thank you for commenting and appreciating our blog. The difficult path always leads you to the most promising rainbow. (at least that’s what I keep telling myself)

  4. Fantastic post. It truly is never too late to start pursuing your dreams. And it’s important having a dream and actually taking steps and measures in order to achieve it or them.

    1. Definitely. You can’t stay on the couch dreaming, you need to get up and take some action to make it a reality. Thanks for commenting Ira, we really appreciate it.

  5. It’s never too late- perfect! Such honestly and pain, that is totally relatable (for me). thanks for being so open and excited to pursue your passions. One reason why I love your blog so much, is that you guys are so accepting and open in creating a true community- you love your work but maybe just as much, love sharing and connecting with other people as well. It’s a great model to look at with travel blogging and one that continues to inspire us as we work on Vagabond3. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you so much for that Jade. We really appreciate it as it is something we really want to do. We are all here to help each other, there is no better way. You have to keep moving towards that dream, even if it means some days you crawl. You’ll get there eventually.

  6. Great, honest blog post. The truth is, even though you stopped yourself once, you picked it up again. The universe will always present opportunities to live your dream, it’s just a matter of courage to listen, which is what you did – something to celebrate, definitely not to regret!

    1. The universe will always present opportunities to live your dream, it’s just a matter of courage to listen, which is what you did

      So true!! and I love how you reminded me it’s more of a celebration. Thank you for that 🙂

  7. Great post, I guess we all went through this time when we regrets not to have taken one or several opportunities life was offering to us… But, we did not all have the courage to re-open these doors.

    1. I guess the bigger the regret the more you need to re-open the doors. I think that means you are destined for that path, something just won’t allow you to let it go

  8. Better a little late than never 🙂 I thought about my travel blog for 4 years before I finally got up the nerve….and now I’m having so much fun!

  9. Completely agree with your point that it is never too late. A quote that has stuck with me is “A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams.” – and this definitely relates here. Even though your Dad never played test cricket, it’s great that he’s still actively playing and is in the over 60’s national team!

    As a huge cricket fan, I’d love you to drop some names of his teammates! 🙂

    1. I will have to get my dad to spill the beans!! He has told me but I’ve forgotten! Ha Ha. Having grown up in a cricketing family, obviously, I should be doing better than that. My brother played for the Australian U17’s team and he went to England to play for a season when he was 20 and never returned. He decided he liked the travelling life better. He used to bowl in the nets to the Aussie players for practice. And I’ll drop a name- Mark Waugh’s car was once parked at our place. His step son Chad used to play with my brother and he spent the night once. 🙂
      Love that quote by the way. Thank goodness I’m not old yet!

  10. Inspiring tale as ever Caz. So how long was the gap between that week with no internet in 2007 and when you started YTravel? And crucially what was the trigger to give it a go?
    I’m fascinated by people’s stories like that.
    For me I was off work with stress and dreading going back, at a loose end.
    I went for a walk to our local park with Kirsty one day, we were talking about what to do with our lives, how neither of us wanted to get stuck in our day jobs, and she said something off the cuff about ‘you should pursue your dream of being a travel writer.’
    A few days later I was having a look on one the website of one of my favorite travel writers, saw that he was running a workshop and this massive lightbulb just went ping! and I thought ‘I’ve got to sign up for that!’ and that’s what got me started really. Funnily enough I only went on that course recently (you might remember the post about it) so turns out I didn’t need the course to get started really, just to be enthused enough about the idea of it!

    1. Thanks Jules. I first had the idea in 2007 and then the internet went down at the beginning of this year, so it was about 2.5 years. Once I started writing the book again at the beginning of this year, I thought about how I needed to have people to sell the book to. I had previously been doing some other blogging stuff, and while I enjoyed it, the firey passion wasn’t there so my success was limited. So once i started thinking of the blog, I did some research and saw all these other travel blogs out there (I had never read one before) and I thought “Shit, why didn’t I do this before? I know blogging and I know travel. There is no reason why I can’t do what they are doing.”And so I started. Once I started y travel blog, I decided that if I was serious about it and my book, then I needed to do some work on my writing. So I took the Matador U course, which has really helped me. Now, I am so busy with the blogs and everything related to it, that my book is progressing slowly. I am about two-thirds done, but I am happy because I’m moving forward and I have a bigger platform now with which to share it. And my blog has brought me so many wonderful things- like the ability to help and inspire others and meeting such an awesome bunch of people in the process. Thank God for unexplained computer meltdowns!!
      It is funny how quite often it is just the simple things that trigger you to move forward, and I think it only needs to be simple, because they come at the time when you are most ready. I’m glad that you listened to your fiance because you bring so much to the community

  11. I may comment more on this later but I have lived my entire life being safe. It’s my nature. It’s quite ironic that I love to travel because I may be the most boring person to hang out with at home. However, I love my life. Recently, I was challenged to do more and take chances. However, there’s so much more to that challenge than that (more than I can share on here anyways). I appreciate this post and will reflect on it more later.

  12. OK it’s later and I am commenting more. Caz, this is one of my favorite blogs and I don’t say that to flatter you. I am too blunt and honest to flatter you for no reason. With that said, you really screwed up here!!! 🙂

    Just kidding! Coulda woulda shoulda – easy to say that in hindsight. Your life could have gone in a different direction 3 years ago. You might be a different parent now if you had done this 3 years ago. You may have failed completely if you tried this 3 years ago. The point is, you are doing it now and people are noticing it.

    Like you, I struggle with this. I doubt myself every day. I am too small of a fish in a large pond and I am content with little success in this at all. I have thought about the Matador U course but money is really tight. I have tried hard, burned out, and struggled the last few months. The truth is, I have NEVER known what I wanted to do in life. 35 years old and I have always taken the safe route and struggled to find my passion.

    If I am still in my same job 20 years from now, I will be disappointed. I got my college degree and went to work into the field I did because it was the first class I took in college and my field was the first job I got out of college because I happened to run into a professor who heard about a job. I have NEVER known what I wanted to do or how I really want to live. My life is safe, comfortable, routine – it’s how I like it. However, I’ve never really loved what I did and felt there has always been a void. I know it’s because I didn’t take chances and I have plenty of what ifs and regrets.

    Where do I go from here? I don’t know. I take too much of life one day at a time to really have a plan for the future. I have been doing the writing for a year. At times I love it, times I am discouraged, and others I just get burned out and wonder why bother. So I know what you have been through and I just encourage you that if you know your dream, find your passion, and are pursuing it now, enjoy it for what it is. Don’t worry how successful you could have been.

    There are many people in this world who would love to enjoy their lives and passion as much as you enjoy yours – no matter how much success, accolades, or money they have. As for me, I am still wondering what I am going to do when I finally “grow up.”

    1. Thanks so much Jeremy, it really is better late than never. This is a really inspiring comment. I think we are very similar-not just in age- and I think you are at the right place now. A couple of years ago, I was just like you, not a clue as to what I wanted to do and really struggling with it. I always envied those people who knew straight away what their life path was. I too was living day by day, for the moment. All I wanted to do was live with passion. How the hell can you create a job out of that???

      So with the discomfort and struggle came the questions. Every day I asked “What is it they I need to be doing? How can I contribute? What are my special talents.” and then every day I would say “yes yes yes.” I’ll do it, whatever it takes, I’ll do it As long as I can live my passions and dreams and feel like I am living my life on purpose. ” And that is how I eventually ended up here. Keep asking Jeremy. You’ll find the answers. You are an amazing person with so much to offer. And when the shit gets you down, just turn to those who can prop you back up and remind you why you are doing what you are doing and that you will get there.

      Thanks for doing that with me today. I am going to release this regret of what could of been today and just enjoy what I have now.

      1. Glad you liked my comment Caz. Hopefully, I can find the passion and direction you have found. I realized this weekend that the little things in life are important but I still have much to sort out!

    2. Jeremy, I’ve been reading your comments over the months! When I was 30 years old I said to my wife (and daughter a baby) that I was giving up my job – I didn’t like selling garden hoses!! For a good time I had nothing. I kept my body and my mind healthy, and every month I wrote a list of what I loved in life. I kept reading over this list determined that my future would come out of this list. If someone came and said “you should buy this re-roofing business”, I could proudly say “but re-roofing isn’t on my list!!!”. That was 20 years ago, and I have a blessed life. Make your list – write about it! My 19 year oild son said to me recently “I realise that you are only limited by your imagination”. Go for it!

      1. Thanks for the encouragement John! That’s a great idea. I might try the list thing and see how it works. One of my big problems is stepping out and taking chances. I prefer safety and comfort, especially when it comes to protecting my family. A few years ago, I may have been more willing to take a chance. Much harder now.

        Sorry to hijack the comments Caz! 🙂

  13. I reckon if your Dad is a spin bowler he should put his hand up!! He could be playing in the next Ashes test!! Just joking, but…

    I don’t believe you can look back – don’t carry a rear view mirror. Look what you have today!

    1. Ha Ha! I tell you John, we need him! I think our glory days are gone 🙁 Bring back Warny. You are absolutely right.. Throw away the rear view mirror. Actually, our one on our car recently broke, and I found myself really a lot more focused on my driving and moving forward. Isn’t that a great analogy!

  14. thanks so much for this caz! i am facing some really difficult life changes right now and will be arming myself in part with your words as i make my way through next steps. so grateful that you eventually set out and did it- it’s a gift to so many of us in the travel community…the one you’ve been so involved in building 🙂

  15. I love how honest you guys are on here. You say all the things many of us think about but don’t articulate. You’re doing amazing things here!

    1. Thank you! Sometimes I worry about how honest We might be, but then I think “I have no choice. ” I said I’ll do whatever it takes to live my life on purpose, and if it means writing this in order for it to help someone, then I have to do it. Thank you so much for appreciating it and helping to lift us up.

    1. Regret can be such a powerful motivator. It was always the driver behind most decisions in my life and then for some reason that changed for awhile. Boy, did I feel the change from that switch. It is always better to try and have it not work out then not try and wonder what may have happened.

  16. It’s interesting because I constantly repeat the phrase ‘I want to live a life without regrets’ and for years I assumed that the only way to do so was to actually go out and attack every crazy goal I had in life, one after the other. However, I eventually realized that living a life without regrets had much more to do with my mindset as I noticed that regrets arose not from failed goals, but from dwelling on what I perceived to be failed goals. Once I decided to try and maintain a positive outlook at all times and to view failures or periods of struggle as steps to a new opportunity, suddenly the regrets vanished.

    So thank you for this post as it reminded me to continue working at maintaining this outlook as much as possible!

    1. What a great way of looking at regret Earl. Your thoughts determine your reality, right, and you choose your thoughts. It’s great to know we hold the power to always turn what might be a negative into a positive. I think also believing everything happens for a reason can help you with this as well, and keeps you moving forward. Thanks for sharing Earl, we so appreciate you!

  17. I say the timing must not have been right back then. It is right now and you two are doing amazing things. You are ready for success now and even though there was an open market for blogs back then, you are standing out among the masses today so hey, it doesn’t matter at all. Wishing you all the best for 2011, it is going to be one great year for you!

    1. Thank you so much guys. It was really great to wake up to this comment this morning, as it was one of those doubtful days where i was questioning everything I was doing. Thanks for steering me back on track 🙂

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