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I Asked 115 People What Their Biggest Regret in Life is…

I asked 115 people what their biggest regret in life was, and the results seemed like ordinary mistakes until I noticed something. The factor that is the most common in almost all of these responses is the word “Not”. Many think of a certain destination or a specific path, but end up not following through with it; most of the time a thought or idea comes to mind and the outcomes are imagined, but then something stops us. Something within tells us to turn around or change our mind, and then months or years down the line, another regret is added to the list.  

“Not telling the guy I liked in high school how I felt.”

“Losing my virginity and not waiting till I was married”

“Letting the wrong people into my life”

“Not telling the person I love “I love you” before it was too late.”

“Staying with a guy who I knew was cheating on me for four years.”

“Allowing my ex boyfriend to emotionally manipulate me for two years.”

“Not picking a better college”

“Not taking more risks & blindly following rules.”

“Not choosing something that would make me happy, and choosing something that’s cooler”

“Not communicating fully with my friends and family.”

“I regret not taking risks and not being a little more free spirited.”

“Not showing people that I love them enough. At the end of my days I wish everyone knew how I truly felt about them.”

“Not saying the words that should’ve been said.”

“Not leaving an abusive relationship soon enough, and not taking chances.”

“Choosing one university (Michigan State) over another (American University) because of my father’s pressure to choose the cheaper one”

“Not giving every opportunity presented me, my 100%. I find a lot of times I’ll be in something but looking back knowing I could have been something more if I would have put in more effort.”

“Not communicating with my parents/every other person in my life the things I wanted while growing up. I carried around so much shame and guilt and was afraid to ask for what I wanted – when I know now, the people in my life”

“Not telling the people I love that I love them until it was too late”

“Not choosing a career in science. It’s too expensive for my parents to help me change my major now.”

“Not standing up for myself, ever.”

“Being so busy in school that I forget to have fun.”

“Believing everything I hear from my friends instead of finding out for myself.”

“Not gaining control of my health when I was younger.”

“Running from opportunities and relationships out of the fear of not being enough.”

“Not trying harder in High School.”

“Not being able to move on from bad events as quickly as I’d like to.”

“Not working harder in school.”

“My ex boyfriend.”

“Not having the guts to come out as a lesbian to my family.”

“Not cutting my hair butch short.”

“Lying about myself.”

“Prioritizing poorly.”

“Doing what was easy, not what I was passionate about.”

“Ruining my GPA during the first semester.”

“Ending things too soon.”

“Not putting myself out there.”

“Using up all my swipes on people too soon.”

“Not searching for internships/being unprepared for the “real world” outside of college.”

“Staying in my comfort zone too long.”

“Not thanking my dad for always being there for me, but it’s too late now.

“I never stop to smell the roses and appreciate the things I have in my life.”

“Spending all my money I earned over the summer and then some.”

“Not applying to the g-med program when I graduated high school.”

“Not being honest about the way I feel.”

“Not staying in touch with old friends.”

“Making some terrible mistakes last semester which resulted in horrible consequences.”

“Letting a guy take advantage of me in 8th grade.”

“Eating Canes that one time.”

“Letting someone go.”

“Having sex too young.”

“Not studying abroad.”

“Not being able to convince my parents about dropping Pre-Med.”

“Not taking enough chance.”

“Not doing the things that I said I wanted to do.”

“Not telling anyone about how he sexually assaulted me at camp, instead I pretended to be sick in order for me to go home.”

“Not having the courage to speak up about something when I should’ve.”

“Wasting time being sad.”

“Not taking care of my health.”

“Not reporting my rape to the police.”

“Being too scared to be who I really am.”

“Falling for someone who didn’t care about me.”

“Not picking the right guy.”

“Missing out on possible adventures.”

“Overthinking a situation with my friends so much that they got annoyed and left me.”

“My biggest regret is not following my instincts to go into urban planning and political science. I signed up for all these science classes, knowing that science wasn’t my strength, because I wanted to get a well-paying and “safe” job in STEM fields. I’m currently failing Organic Chemistry II and deciding to transition into urban planning.”

“Not working hard enough.”

“Giving my time to the wrong people.”

“Not going to the college I wanted to go to.”

“Not being close to my family. I have distanced myself away from my family.”

“Not calling my aunt more before she died.”

“Not sending in the application to a job that could have changed my life.”

“Allowing myself to stay in an abusive relationship.”

“Becoming too invested in my significant others this young.”

“Being too weak to face my fears.”

“Not being brave enough to take risks.”

“Not putting myself out there and not living to my fullest.”

“I feel that I let my shyness hold me back. I have missed out on fun opportunities, friendships, and maybe even love because I hold myself back sometimes. I am working on it.”

“Staying with my ex for almost a year after the relationship was dead.”

“Letting my boyfriend take advantage of my kindness.”

“I’ve never been skinny and I let myself get overweight because I just couldn’t bring myself to get into exercise or healthy eating. I regret that I didn’t’ care earlier, but I was proud of myself when I got in college, lost weight and developed a pretty good gym habit. Over winter break I gained like 5 pounds, it may not seem like a big deal, but I am really unhappy with my body knowing the extra weight is there and I just can’t seem to get back into my healthy routine.”

“Being too scared to do the things I want.”

“Settling for a guy who doesn’t deserve me rather than just being alone because I’m waiting for someone better to come along.”

“Quitting ballet.”

“Not studying abroad before graduation.”

“Not doing better in high school”

“Not taking the leap to speak Spanish to my family. I always felt embarrassed that I wasn’t fluent, so I only spoke and still speak to them in English, which creates a huge barrier between my non-English speaking relatives and myself. I am missing out on my family by not having confidence in myself.”

“Letting others control me. It’s freaking horrible.”

“Begging Kevin Jonah for money on Snapchat until he blocked me.”

“Not spending more time being happy.”

“Not maintaining the good relationship I used to have with my mom as I’ve gotten older.”

“Cheating on my boyfriend.”

“Not showing how much she meant to me when we were at an all time high. She could’ve been mine, but I neglected to take action, and now I’m reminded of my choices every day.”

“Not being confident enough to jump at amazing opportunities.”

“Being nice and loving to everyone no matter what.”

“Being lazy freshman year.”

“I was never an easy child growing up and that I made life hard for my family.

“Not choosing to continue with cheerleading.”

“Letting someone I love walk away.”

“Not living up to my parents’ expectations.”

“Not starting a family sooner.”

“Allowing myself to think that I was not good enough for someone.”

“Not stopping her when she was leaving me.”

“Not telling my dad that my mom was cheating on him.”

“Not using the Tropical Smoothie free smoothie before it expired.”

“Not listening to my parents about my career choice.”

“Returning to school after my Disney College Program.”

“Not dancing.”

“Not being able to speak to my grandpa for the last time.”

“Telling my ex about my sexual assault.”

“Staying with someone after he cheated on me with two different girls in 1.5 years of dating.

“Letting people walk over me because I’m “too nice” and I’m worried that ruined my opportunity for a bigger officer position in my organization.”

“Taking anatomy at VCU and choosing the science field…what was I thinking…”

“I’ve honestly had more than I can count regrets but Blake Sheldon explains it the best; “worst hangover, your best night out.”

“Going to school so far from home. I love my friends at college, but leaving home after every break knowing that I won’t get to see them until the next break really sucks. I’m all about the adventure, but sometimes I just want to go home and see my family.”




Amritha Nair is a double major in Psychology and Business Management at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a member of many organizations on campus including greek life and numerous philanthropic organizations. Her writing has always been an outlet for her; her favorite pieces to write are short stories and poems that usually reflect personal experience or are inspired by other works of art. Other than writing, Amritha loves to swim, shop online, read, and binge watch shows on Netflix. Her heart lies with her family, close friends, and ice cream. You can follow her on twitter and Instagram at amrithanair16!
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