Friday, January 31, 2014

When 20/20 Vision isn't So Great

Lately I have been hearing the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20,” a lot. Too much I think. Too much, because it reminds me of all the things I wish I had done differently—opportunities I didn’t take, advantages I gave up on, responses I made to others that were a little too harsh, and decisions I made that should have been more thought out.
Now when I look back upon these things, the right answers are so clear. Now I have the knowledge and experience I needed to make those decisions. But now, it is too late. What’s done is done and I must live with the consequences.

Would it have made a difference if I had endured a bad coach one more year and played volleyball senior year of high school? Would I have gotten a scholarship to play in college? Would I have an easier time getting a job now if I had taught that class while getting my Master’s degree? Would my kids be better listeners if I had set stricter schedules for them when they were babies? Would my daughter have been more emotionally prepared for elementary school if I had held her back and given her one more year before starting kindergarten?

These and so many more are questions I ask myself all the time. Quick decisions I made when I thought I knew the answers are coming back to bite me now that I have a little more life experience under my belt. But what is most frustrating is that the same thing is going to happen with the decisions I am making today. I think I know the answers, but I know that I will soon find that I acted too swiftly.
There is no way to know the effects of our decisions before they pan out. One of the disadvantages of life is that we must live it before we can discover the right answers. Maybe it isn’t a disadvantage at all, but a blessing. Maybe there’s a reason we aren’t supposed to know the answers. Maybe we are actually better off looking back on our decisions with picture perfect vision rather than having a picture perfect life to begin with. Maybe the mistakes are what keep us from becoming too powerful, too proud, or too set in our ways.

I remember a time in my late teens when I couldn’t think of one regret I had in my life. Over the years, my challenges as a military wife and mother have far surpassed the easy life I had growing up, and my regrets are many. But at least these regrets serve a purpose—providing me wisdom and experience that I can use when making future choices.

Sure, there will be new situations in which I will be forced to make blurred, inexperienced decisions. And certainly, I will one day look back and see my error with 20/20 vision. But the truth is if we knew everything we needed to know about life before we lived it, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn and improve and discover our strengths.  The continuous cycle of experiencing and then learning is our only path to uncovering the wisdom that life offers.

Hindsight is 20/20, yes. But don't beat yourself up for not knowing the future. Rather than living your life worrying about what you should’ve done differently, consider what your choices have taught you. There’s a good chance that you now know something you otherwise would’ve never discovered.


  1. So true dear! It is often that we figure out the answers when we feel it's "too late." I can certainly relate to this post as of recently; as I'm sure many others can as well.