Pandemic Regrets: Looking Back and Feeling Time Was Wasted

It's okay to feel some regrets but remember that this was tougher than many of us imagined. 

The random thought popped into my head during my regularly occurring 3am waking quite unexpectedly. 

"If I had started stretching every day when this began I would be really flexible by now." 

That thought followed me around for days. It wouldn't leave my head. Why didn't I use this time to stretch every day? It was something I had been working on and all I have now is time and yet, I didn't do it. 

And like all good thoughts, it led from one to another. I could be: 

  • Semi-fluent in a new language.
  • More fit. 
  • Halfway through writing my book. 


That's when I realized I was experiencing pandemic regrets. Regrets about not making the most of my time. I wasn't baking. I sure as hell wasn't on Tik Tok. And while I attempted to learn French, I'm still only at basic greetings. It turns out it's not just me. I reached out to friends and on social media to ask if anyone else had any thoughts like this. The answer was a resounding yes. And not just us, our (older) kids too. 

I don't think any of us thought it would be this long. Or maybe that's just me. I didn't know when I was let go from my job on March 16th that two months in there would still only a small light at the end of the self-isolation tunnel. In the beginning, we were in a stage of adjustment and anxiety. What is happening? How long will this last? What is going on with school? What's happening with my job? Will I get COVID? Will my loved ones get COVID?

There were so many unanswered questions and we were wading through the days. Then slowly we morphed into our routines. Or maybe not. We're all dealing with this in a different way. 

I let the thought stew for a few days, it ate away at me every time it popped back into my head. And then, in a moment of clarity, I let it all go. 

First, because being able to look back and have regrets means I had spare time and having spare time is mostly coming from a place of privilege. Our frontline workers, the people who are putting their lives on the line to help keep our country (and world) running don't have spare time. Yes, I (and maybe you too) have to worry about income and paying bills. My mortgage payments and feeding my kids keeps me up at night but I don't have to worry that doing my job could end up killing me. 

Second, because I now realize looking back at my time in this pandemic is similar to when I look back to having a colicky newborn. I have an overall memory that it was awful but I forget what it was like to be in the throws of it, how it felt to go day-in and day-out with little to no sleep. How frustrated I was at this little baby who would cry inconsolably for hours on end. 

I remember but it's a blurred memory, like wiping vaseline across a mirror. 

Lockdown seems to be a bit like that. It's easier to look back and feel like we should have done more when in reality it was tougher than many of us imagined. 

I reached out to Kelly Bos, a social worker who practices psychotherapy for individual, marriage, and family relationships to see what advice she has to offer. This is what she had to say:  

"COVID-19 is generally handled like we handle everything else. We battle to practice self-care and show ourselves compassion and at the same time have expectations of ourselves. Goals are good but we have to keep in mind that we are in a global pandemic and comparison remains the thief of joy. 

Instead of shaming ourselves for our lack in the COVID time recognize what you did do and celebrate it.  

Yes, some people will learn a new language, or create a six-pack of six new side hustles. These people exist outside of COVID too and that is great. 

What if instead of looking back with regret you worked on how you talk to yourself. You would never tell a friend they failed during COVID, rather you would cheerlead their ability to get a little homeschooling done, make an apple fitter loaf and get pants on today. What if you worked on your self messaging and truly celebrated yourself today?"

It's okay to get through this how you need to get through, we're all doing what we need to do. But please don't have any regrets as to what you did or didn't do during your time during lockdown. At the end of the day, let's be kind, not only to everyone we connect with in life but to ourselves as well. Then there will be no regrets.