Think of your greatest fear.
Maybe it’s something tangible, like spiders or snakes. Maybe you’re afraid of the dark or of losing a loved one. Maybe it’s something on a larger scale, like a pandemic or war.
If you were to ask me four years ago what my biggest fear was, I would have said “not getting into William & Mary.” Fortunately, I dodged that bullet.
But if you were to ask me today what my greatest fear is, it wouldn’t be loss or disease or war. Don’t get me wrong; those are all very legitimate fears. But as a worrier by nature, I try not to stress about things over which I have no control.
My biggest fear is regret.
The fear of regret is what keeps me awake at night. The idea that I could look back on my life with a series of “what ifs” and “if onlys”. The idea that I could wish my life took a different path.
As I was reflecting over my four years at William & Mary, I thought of the things I wish I had or hadn’t done. I wish I had taken Intro to Micro Econ a little more seriously (sorry, Dad). I wish I hadn’t let myself get too hung up on a few less-than-perfect grades. I wish I had been a little more impulsive and let myself skip a few meetings here and there.
During my time as an undergrad, I made mistakes. We all made mistakes. But making mistakes is human, and we’re so lucky that we’ve found a community at William & Mary that not only forgives us, but supports us as we grow and learn from those mistakes.
As we look into the vast unknown of our future, it’s easy to get caught up on our mistakes. To ask those “what ifs” and those “if onlys”. It’s easy to focus on regret. Instead, I want to ask you all one question.
Are you happy?
Right here, in this moment, as we transition to a new exciting and frightening chapter of our lives. Are you happy?
If the answer is yes, you have no reason for regret. Because whatever decision, however good or bad or big or small, has led you exactly to this moment.
My wish for the Class of 2014 is this: live a life without regret. Although we may stumble, may we continue to lean on each other and learn from our mistakes. I hope we live in the pursuit of happiness, and never be afraid to make a change if we can’t answer the question, “Am I happy?” with a resounding “yes.” May we never forget those who supported and inspired us on this beloved campus.
May we always choose happiness.