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‘I Wasted My Life’

What a terrible thing to live with regret. Some of you reading this have prioritized your comfort and the opinions of others over your destiny. You sense you have a calling, but your fear keeps you from it. You don’t want to admit, but perhaps you’re wasting your life. John Jerryson, 46, was lik…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

What a terrible thing to live with regret. Some of you reading this have prioritized your comfort and the opinions of others over your destiny. You sense you have a calling, but your fear keeps you from it. You don’t want to admit, but perhaps you’re wasting your life.

John Jerryson, 46, was like this. He posted on a Reddit forum. He lamented how he’s wasted his life and become a stranger to himself.

Hundreds of people have since responded. The full text is below. What are your thoughts?

My regrets as a 46 year old, and advice to others at a crossroad

Hi, I my name’s John. I’ve been lurking for a while, but I’ve finally made an account to post this. I need to get my life off my chest. About me. I’m a 46 year old banker and I have been living my whole life the opposite of how I wanted.

All my dreams, my passion, gone. In a steady 9-7 job. 6 days a week. For 26 years. I repeatedly chose the safe path for everything, which eventually changed who I was.

Today I found out my wife has been cheating on me for the last 10 years. My son feels nothing for me. I realised I missed my father’s funeral FOR NOTHING. I didn’t complete my novel, travelling the world, helping the homeless. All these things I thought I knew to be a certainty about myself when i was in my late teens and early twenties. If my younger self had met me today, I would have punched myself in the face. I’ll get to how those dreams were crushed soon.

Let’s start with a description of me when I was 20. It seemed only yesterday when I was sure I was going to change the world. People loved me, and I loved people. I was innovative, creative, spontaneous, risk-taking and great with people. I had two dreams. The first, was writing a utopic/dystopic book.

The second, was travelling the world and helping the poor and homeless. I had been dating my wife for four years by then. Young love. She loved my spontaneity, my energy, my ability to make people laugh and feel loved.

I knew my book was going to change the world. I would show the perspective of the ‘bad’ and the ‘twisted’, showing my viewers that everybody thinks differently, that people never think what the do is wrong. I was 70 pages through when i was 20. I am still 70 pages in, at 46.

By 20, I had backpacking around New Zealand and the Phillipines. I planned to do all of Asia, then Europe, then America (I live in Australia by the way). To date, I have only been to New Zealand and the Phillipines.

Now, we get to where it all went wrong. My biggest regrets. I was 20. I was the only child. I needed to be stable. I needed to take that graduate job, which would dictate my whole life.

To devote my entire life in a 9-7 job. What was I thinking? How could I live, when the job was my life? After coming home, I would eat dinner, prepare my work for the following day, and sleep at 10pm, to wake up at 6am the following day. God, I can’t remember the last time I’ve made love to my wife.

Yesterday, my wife admitted to cheating on me for the last 10 years. 10 years. That seems like a long time, but i can’t comprehend it. It doesn’t even hurt. She says it’s because I’ve changed. I’m not the person I was. What have I been doing in the last 10 years? Outside of work, I really can’t say anything. Not being a proper husband. Not being ME.

Who am I? What happened to me? I didn’t even ask for a divorce, or yell at her, or cry. I felt NOTHING. Now I can feel a tear as I write this. But not because my wife has been cheating on me, but because I am now realising I have been dying inside.

What happened to that fun-loving, risk-taking, energetic person that was me, hungering to change the world? I remember being asked on a date by the most popular girl in the school, but declining her for my now-wife. God, I was really popular with the girls in high school. In university/college too. But i stayed loyal. I didn’t explore. I studied everyday.

Remember all that backpacking and book-writing I told you about? That was all in the first few years of college. I worked part-time and splurged all that I had earned. Now, I save every penny. I don’t remember a time I spend anything on anything fun. On anything for myself. What do I even want now?

My father passed ten years ago. I remember getting calls from mom, telling me he was getting sicker and sicker. I was getting busier and busier, on the verge of a big promotion. I kept putting my visit off, hoping in my mind he would hold on. He died, and I got my promotion. I haven’t seen him in 15 years.

When he died, I told myself it didn’t matter what I didn’t see him. Being an atheist, I rationalized that being dead, it wouldn’t matter anyway. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Rationalizing everything, making excuses to put things off. Excuses. Procrastination. It all leads to one thing, nothing. I rationalized that financial security was the most important thing.

I now know, that it definitely is not. I regret doing nothing with my energy, when I had it. My passions. My youth. I regret letting my job take over my life. I regret being an awful husband, a money-making machine.

I regret not finishing my novel, not travelling the world. Not being emotionally there for my son. Being a damn emotionless wallet.

If you’re reading this, and you have a whole life ahead of you, please. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t leave your dreams for later. Relish in your energy, your passions. Don’t stay on the internet with all your spare time (unless your passion needs it).

Please, do something with your life while your young. DO NOT settle down at 20. DO NOT forget your friends, your family. Yourself. Do NOT waste your life. Your ambitions. Like I did mine. Do not be like me.

Comments (10)

  • I am currently reading the book “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge. The current chapter focus on 2 Corinthinas 4:16-18

    “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

    C.S. Lewis writes

    “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”(Mere Christianity)

    I too am someone “past my prime” and though I have accomplished much, there are still unfufilled dreams in my life that I wonder if God cares about.

    A verse that has encouraged me lately is Phillipians 3:12-14

    “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

    How good it is to remember that God has “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10), and that we are not home yet!

    • Thanks for the thoughts Kimberly. I find it so encouraging to know that God has prepared good works for me to walk in. I don’t even have to do much other than to say “yes.” He has a path for me if I’ll focus on his ends rather than mine.

  • Both the post and comment are so good. I’m past my prime too but I love reminders that I’m not dead!!

  • There’s a balance to everything. Lose it, and you can lose everything. This man could just have easily had lived his whole life backpacking and adventuring, making love to all of the women he was popular with when younger, only to reach forty-six and realize that he had squandered his life – after all, he could have had a family, loving wife and children, and left an enduring legacy for the world long after he was gone.

    “In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:

    The righteous perishing in their righteousness,
    and the wicked living long in their wickedness.

    Do not be overrighteous,
    neither be overwise—
    why destroy yourself?

    Do not be overwicked,
    and do not be a fool—
    why die before your time?

    It is good to grasp the one
    and not let go of the other.

    Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”

    Proverbs 7

  • I find myself responding from two diverse parts of my heart. First, the compassionate one, the one who understands playing it “safe”, following a societal path. I’ve made this choice too. The second response comes from that part that screams “LIFE IS NOT OVER! IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO MAKE ANOTHER CHOICE!” The degree of self-loathing and self-pity here is readily apparent, but the solution is quite simple. We need only love ourselves as much as our Father loves us. I know and trust that I have always been cared for and that will never change. And I truly believe that for each one of us. Take a step, make a change, walk a different path~ you will be carried until you’re able to walk on your own.

  • Can’t we believe that the first 1/2 of our life was the dress rehearsal. The second 1/2 is the grand production. There should be no regrets. All of it mattered, it was the learning who we are. Now the second 1/2 of life is the time to be the star, help the needy, let our wisdom flow. Every thing we did, prepared us for this time.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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