Recently, I saw a Facebook Watch video about regret by Richard Mulloland, and thought it was all very good, sound advice. The up-shot? "Don't die filled with regrets about all the stuff you didn't do!" Here's the link if you're curious.
The message seems like a no-brainer to me: try new things, even scary or difficult things. Do what you want, and have fun. Love. Live.
This video has something like 10 million views. I wonder, percentage-wise, how many view this talk and actually heed his advice? How many will actually go out there and try something new, or try something hard, or try something big? People (in my experience) tend to stay super, super close to what is easy and known. So much so, I have to wonder if it's biologically hard-wired; maybe sticking with what you know helps you not get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.
This staying-where-it's-safe thing seems to go hand-in-hand with another animal kingdom altruism: Stay with the herd. It's safer than being outside of it.
That's when it hit me. Maybe this message is a no-brainer to me, because I've never had a herd.
When you grow up feeling like an outsider in almost every arena of your life (as I did), the herd mentality doesn't even compute. To an outsider, a herd is a threatening group; a group that would feel better if you didn't exist. The up-side is, when you're living on the outskirts, you not only learn to rely on yourself, you also learn to stop being afraid of fitting in. Because you were never, ever going to.
For me, probably starting as early as 3rd or 4th Grade, doing weird or odd things (outside the norm) was a normal, daily activity. In the 5th Grade, alone, I was really into reading books that had specifically been banned by the Nazis (even if I didn't really understand them), I spent long hours painting abstract landscapes, I adapted and directed a cross-cultural and gender-bent productions of Alice in Wonderland, and I spent copious hours memorizing passages from Macbeth. It was weird. I was weird. To others. To me, it felt normal. And it still does. In fact, trying to act 'normal' around normal people is the only time I don't feel like I fit in. Because when I do that, I don't fit in with me.
For most people, stepping into the unknown isn't just about trying something new, it's about the hard, scary, vulnerable feeling that if you do so, your herd might not approve. Such daring requires not only a willingness to fail, and a level of comfortability with vulnerability, it requires you to be willing to fall, face-first, in front of a large crowd of your 'peers'. And your herd, should they disapprove, might just kick you out.
So, as I see it, most people die having regrets not only because they had a fear of doing new things. It's because they had a pathological fear of looking bad in front, and ultimately losing, their herd. Think about that: most people would rather have a ton of regrets about stuff they never tried, than look less-than "cool" for a single, solitary minute.
And yeah, you know what? I'm sure I've looked stupid, more than once. I'm sure some have laughed at me, behind my back. But guess what? I don't care. Those people are not my people. And trying stuff has never cost me a thing.
I do honestly hope that Mr. Mulloland's speech inspires people. If just .01% of the 10 million viewers actually made a point to step outside their comfort zone, tomorrow -make a friend who's a different color than you, make a piece of art, investigate a new religion, or hike a trail even though you've never hiked, and hate nature- just imagine the ripple effects from that! Wouldn't that be something? What would a world, with that many intentional non-conformists, with that many adventuresome people in it, even look like? Kinda staggering to think about.
If you're thinking about following Mr. Mullholland's advice, stepping out of your comfort zone and being brave, take it from an outsider: you have nothing to lose. Fitting in with the herd is an illusion. Anyone who'd kick you out, or laugh at you for trying? They were never your people to begin with.
At this point in my life, I can honestly say, I have no regrets. I've done, seen, and loved plenty, and I fully intend to keep trying, and falling flat on my face (sometimes, spectacularly!) for the rest of my life. Because that's the fun stuff. Everything else is just a waste of time.
CARPE DIEM, FRIENDS.