The Phantom of the Opera or Bigger Fish to Fry

Now that January is over I think it’s time for a monthly musing. Don’t get excited, these will not be a frequent occurrence, mainly because I don’t get much time to muse, at least not about anything interesting.

A work colleague was telling me about how she regretted turning down a night out with her friends, she suffers with FOMO (fear of missing out) and ended up spending the whole night wishing she’d said yes. She called it ‘a big regret’. Now if that’s her idea of a big regret then her life must be pretty cushy because to most people that would be nothing more than a trivial missed opportunity. I scoffed at her misery and told her most people have bigger fish to fry – or something along those lines…

But then I got thinking about the difference between regrets and missed opportunities. I think they get confused easily, I have regrets, big ones and so does everyone but it’s somehow the smaller, less drastic mishaps that we rue the most. For example, I reckon deep down Hillary Clinton regrets running for president and losing to Donald J. (the J is important) Trump, but I bet you what irks her more is turning down that vacation to Rome – what vacation to Rome? The one I just made up, okay? – the point being that one regrets doing things that ultimately bring nothing but misery but there’s nothing you can do but move on from those incidents whereas a missed opportunity weighs on the mind more because it could have brought happiness or excitement or ‘insert positive adjective here.’

My own missed opportunity comes from my time living in France. I was asked to go to the opera with an American guy I’d met at one of my British Council training sessions. FYI, I taught English to French kids for a year, that’s why I was living in France. Now, I’ve always wanted to go to the opera, not because I particularly like opera but because Julia Roberts went in Pretty Woman and had a whale of a time.

But I turned the guy down. Why? You tell me. It was a combination of reasons. 1) The opera was in a different city to where I lived which would have meant a pricey train ticket plus lots of travel (call me lazy) 2) I had nothing, and I mean nothing to wear (call me sloppy) and 3) The invitation extended to myself only, so it would have been me and this American dude at the opera ‘together’, I had a boyfriend living in the UK and I suppose I’d been watching too many bad chick-flicks and considered this ‘date’ to be a disloyal (call me…I don’t know, stupid?)

Looking back I regret this missed opportunity. Not because I didn’t get to see Carmen but because the reasons I had for not going were all redundant. So what if I didn’t have anything ‘operaesque’ to wear (I’m going to trademark that word right here) I could have rocked a decent outfit with my limited wardrobe. Big deal about being loyal to the boyfriend, it didn’t work both ways in this case and besides I wasn’t attracted to the American guy anyway. And who cares if the opera was in another city, miles away? I was only going to be living in France for a year – might as well travel!

So when I think back to my colleague who regrets turning down a night out and think, maybe she’s right, maybe that is something worth regretting after all.

Serves me right for scoffing

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