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Women confess their single-biggest regrets in life

Regrets, we’ve all had a few, right? While many of us try to live a truly regret-free life, there always seems to be a few things we wish we could have as a do-over. We asked our favorite Raging Feminists what the one big regret was in their lives.

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What’s the one thing you regret?

I regret all the times I’ve felt ashamed of myself for rocking the boat when really what I’ve been doing is standing up for myself or for justice. All the shaming, the how dare yous, the memories of angry loved ones that still come up unbidden like so much vomit in the back of my throat — all of them were not my fault, but were the fault of a system that didn’t like a little bird shrieking for justice.” — Margaret Corvid

I regret that I spent a lot of time attracted to creative men and promoting their work instead of mine. I began turning that around when I hit about age 40, but I still default to such choices, and to feeling selfish if I do the very things I need to do to be an artist. You know how so many people on their deathbeds supposedly wish they had spent more time with their families and less time working? I bet most of those people aren’t women.” — A. Ruminator

I regret how long I’ve bottled up my anger about things that happened to me and people I love. I was taught that anger is a bad thing, so I just tamped it down for so long it became toxic. Now that I know better, the anger detox process is really unpleasant. I’m trying to teach my children, especially my daughter, that all emotions are valid, but they cannot be directed at others OR at ourselves, they just need to be acknowledged, felt, and released.” — Amanda Adams

Spending years of my life worrying about being fat. Fat acceptance for both myself and others have freed up so much energy to do things that actually matter.” — Lily Tsui

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A month before she passed away, my mother offered to pay for a weekend flight to Florida to visit her. An airline was doing an incredibly cheap deal at the last minute. I was in the process of relocating for my first post-graduate job the following week nearly 1,800 miles away from my hometown, but I could’ve made it work. My job decided to put off my start date for another week, and it was too late at that point to take advantage of the airline’s deal. I try not to let guilt get to me, but I’d say this is my biggest regret in life.” — Danielle Corcione

Like most native New Yorkers, my only regret involves housing. Having grown up working class in a rent controlled apartment in Brooklyn, no one ever taught me any kind of financial literacy — especially related to housing. I thought home ownership was something only rich people could attain. When I moved back to Brooklyn in 1999 post-college, Rudy Giuliani had done extreme damage to the housing market, destabilized rent control, and average one-bedrooms in Brooklyn were already renting for $1,000 to $1,200… way too rich for my non-profit writer/activist blood. The real estate agent who was trying to find me and a roommate an affordable apartment tried to convince me to buy a large one bedroom co-op apartment in Windsor Terrace (my favorite neighborhood in Brooklyn) for $100,000. I refused to even consider it: A hundred grand sounded like a million to me; I made $25K/year and I had no concept of mortgages, incentives for first-time buyers, etc. I look back now and realize that I could have gotten a loan and paid FAR less for my monthly mortgage than I paid in rent year after year, while living in my favorite neighborhood. Instead, housing was the biggest stress of my life for a decade and a half. A native NYer on the screwed end of the gentrification shuffle, I was constantly pushed out of every neighborhood I could initially afford. I had five apartments between 1999 and 2009. Every time [my] landlord jacked my rent to astronomical rates — the worst was 50%, overnight — I had to move to a smaller, more expensive apartment in a more remote area. I nearly always spent more than half my annual income on rent. I think about how different, how much less anxiety I’d have had, and how much higher my quality of life would have been, had I just bought that apartment in 1999. Oh, and the kicker? Similar apartments in that area now sell for somewhere between $500K and $750K. F***ing Giuliani and housing, man.” — Jennifer Pozner

Paying any heed to naysayers, negative people, toxics, haters and not cutting them out sooner than I did.” — Hani Yousuf

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Regret is a paradox. We cannot regret what we have not tried and failed at, even when what we’ve tried and failed at is trying at all in the first place. So, I regret everything. And I regret nothing. I recognize that without my regrets, I’d never have become who I am, today. My life was one unending chain of failure and sadness until I found myself, found the woman I’d always been becoming. And to the extent that I’ve found success since then, it’s been largely fueled by perspectives I’ve gained through all of that failure, all of that hurt. Do I wish there was another way? Of course. But this is what life is. It’s trying, and failing, and feeling hurt and sorry and miserable, howling with the shame and the deeply rooted sense of inadequacy, sobbing with the guilt, and then taking all of that trash, and keeping it for compost. There’s no better way to grow the most beautiful flowers.” — Seranine Elliot

I regret all the time I wasted on people who weren’t deserving of it. The friends, the colleagues, the boyfriends… Everyone who I twisted myself into knots trying to gain approval from. Now that I know what true friendship and true love are — the mutual respect that’s required to make them work — I understand how much time I wasted trying to make relationships and connections where I shouldn’t have bothered. I wish I could go back through high school and university with the sense of confidence and self-worth that I have now.” — Ruth Dawkins

I regret the 20+ years I spent erasing myself in every possible photo. I regret literally disappearing from the record between the ages of 12 and 35. In those years there are perhaps five pictures of me, all taken by ambush, by people who loved me. I look at those five pictures and I see a girl and then a woman who was not as fat/ugly/unloved as she thought she was. In every line of those pictures I can see that they were composed by someone who had to sneak up on me, to startle me, to record me and the look on my face when I saw them coming around the corner, that half-excited look when you see someone you care about. Five pictures. Twenty years. More than half my life, and I just don’t exist because I was hiding behind the camera, from the camera, behind a tree. I regret not learning to take pictures of myself sooner, so that I could see my own face, learn how it photographs and be able to arrange it the way I want instead of in an awkward self-conscious grin. I regret trying not to exist.” — Rowan Beckett Grigsby

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