The Coulda-Woulda-Shouldas

Y’all seriously. The coulda-woulda-shouldas almost ate me alive a few weeks ago.

You see, recently one of my friends and I were talking about how we’d found ourselves lamenting over the “coulda-woulda-shouldas” of our lives. Which, as anyone can attest, is always a slippery slope straight to Discontented-ville on the Ornery Train. This starts, of course, with that little nagging thought that maybe, just maybe, life would be better if only you had done that one thing differently. What if?

The What-If List

My coulda-woulda-shouldas look something like this:

  1. What if I had pursued my passion for ballet way back when instead of quitting when I was 16?
  2. What if I had transferred to that out of state college I loved so dearly?
  3. What if I had accepted the archival job one of my college professors offered to me upon my (early) graduation from college?
  4. What if I hadn’t (so arrogantly) brushed off that sweet guy from my international relations class senior year of college who was so intent on getting my attention?

Before long, merciful heavens, I was convinced that my life as it stands right now is just not suitable. Not only has it not gone the way I thought it would (AT ALL), it falls far short of where I “should” be.

While I eventually recovered (mostly) from this turrible line of thinking, its residual effects still resonated in my soul. I mean, really . . . what if?

The Truth

Tonight, however, I received a proverbial kick in the fanny as the Ornery Train quickly departed and the Truth Train came roaring into my station. My life, it seems, is pretty dad-gum fantastic right now.

I ran into an acquaintance tonight who remarked that we met “a long time ago” when I was quite a bit younger. Later as I was driving home, her words rang in my head as I heartily agreed with her. While she and I met only 5 years ago, it seems like an eternity.

So much life – for her and I – has been lived in that relatively short time frame. I’ve learned, been burned, loved, lost, and been found again. While I’m certainly not “old” by any standard (ahem), my 30-year-old self could certainly provide a bit of life advice to the 25-year-old Katie.

Suddenly, instead of lamenting over the fact that I’m no longer in my twenties or wishing I lived a life in which my what-ifs were true, I found myself – for once – okay with the fact that my what-if list of coulda-woulda-shouldas isn’t my reality. Because my reality . . . is quite fantastic.

Reality Is Better Than The Coulda-Woulda-Shouldas

While my reality is VERY FAR from perfect and has caused me quite a bit of anguish, anger, frustration, and exasperation lately, at its core it feels fantastic. Because at the core, for the very first time in my life, I’m listening to my what my “gut” (read: the Holy Spirit) is telling me and I’m doing it. I’m not just trying to do it. I’m doing it.

As uncomfortable as it is, following the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my life is slowly -but very, very surely – ironing out the deepest wrinkles in my life and revealing liberating and exciting truths about who I am.

Despite all the anguish, anger, frustration, and exasperation lately, I’m going through an insanely incredible refiner’s fire. Through the anguish and exasperation, I’m discovering freedom, love and grace. I’m deeply and passionately loved, forgiven, and more precious than a million sparkling diamonds.

Without sounding cliche, I feel like a new woman.

There Will Always Be Coulda-Woulda-Shouldas

My what-ifs and coulda-woulda-shouldas would likely have been wonderful and great. But like my reality, they would have also been filled with periods of anguish, anger, or exasperation. And let’s face it: regardless of what lives any one of us live, there will always be coulda-woulda-shouldas.

What we do with those coulda-woulda-shouldas is what matters. It’s important to acknowledge and appreciate them for what they are but then put them on the memory shelf of life and move forward boldly into the future.

The Future Is Always Brighter Than The Past

While my life certainly isn’t perfect (#lolz) and I’m continuing to strive toward my personal and professional goals, reality and the promise of what’s ahead is far brighter than what’s gone before. Anguish, frustration, and exasperation will always pop-up to add a little *spice* to life, but I trust myself enough to make the right decisions at the right time and to offer grace (and perhaps a glass of wine) to myself when I don’t.

So, to the coulda-woulda-shouldas on the memory shelf of my life: I see you . . . but pardon me while I shake you off, splash on a dash of sparkle, and boldly stride into my future.

What’s on your list of “coulda-woulda-shouldas?”

2 thoughts on “The Coulda-Woulda-Shouldas

  1. Eric says:

    Awesome! Living life to the fullest does not mean lamenting over what your life “could have been” with past choices. Very profound and well spoken!!

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