life passing by

My Regrets as a 46-Year Old, and Advice to Others at a Crossroad – By John Jerryson

life passing byHi, 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, traveling 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 traveling 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 realizing 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 traveling 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.

Sorry for the long post, just had to get it out there.

Sincerest of Regards,

John.


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24 comments

  1. Hi John. I’m getting used to being 46. Was my birthday yesterday. This must have taken a huge amount of courage and for that I admire and respect you immensely. Although we have had led different lives, I can identify with some of the things you say and find it very generous that you would like to give others the benefit of your experience. I also agree with your conclusions. However, the one thing I would add is that it’s not too late to start again. However cliched it may seem, it’s really true. We do things in our own time when the time is right for us. And perhaps at some point in the future, you will feel more open to choosing the path you want to go down. I know it takes courage, but it’s possible. I wish you every happiness in your future. I know it must have been difficultt, but thanks for writing this piece. It’s quite rare to read something so honest.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. This was such a timely read for me. Unexpected circumstances have recently made me have to have a total rethink about where I’m at and where I’m going in life. In many respects I am starting over and whilst this has been a time of reflection it’s also opened new beginnings.
    Thank you for such a transparent post. It helped me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a honest, thoughtful post. I am 44 and don’t feel “old” or that life is over yet… we’re only about half way there. I think it’s great you’ve realised who you really are again… go for it, live the life you want. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John – thank you for sharing your epiphany with us. As other have commented, you still have time to live a different life. I hope you will embrace it! I have a quote that I keep on my computer monitor “Do everything you do like it is the last time you’re ever going to get to do it!”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I give you much credit for your honesty and courage in writing this post but let me say this…unless you have already changed your life or are in the process of doing so, this post, along with your thoughts and feelings, will ring hollow. Is that harsh? Maybe, but no more harsh than what you’ve already done with your life. Others have suggested you have time to create a new direction and life for yourself, and you do. I hope you follow that advice. I hope and pray this isn’t a writing with no lesson learned. You can’t wallow in what was, you should only see the possibilities in front of you and hope to renew and make amends with fractured relationships, build new ones and do the things you’ve always dreamed about doing. If you don’t take those steps, my guess is you’ll be writing another another post here In twenty years speaking of the same wasted time. Listen to everyone’s advice and do what you’re capable of doing. Live your life as it should be, in a way that gives you happiness and love. Everyone has regrets. It’s now time to put them aside and move forward. Anything less would be a shame. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. John, thanks for sharing your words. Look at Cindy’s comments below. Go find yourself. If you want some help, there is a great book and program called “Halftime.” The key message is “what do you want to do with the second half of your life ?”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great, just great. Being myself 29, I know exactly what kind of dilemmas you were dealing with in your 20s. I’m still resisting a temptation of securing myself a stable job with steady income. It is much better. Right now, I’m planning on doing what I really want – small scale family farming without the use of any chemicals and other shitty stuff. I also want to start a family, but I know that I would have to sacrifice other things to maintain everyone happy. You see, it is not about doing exactly what do you want, but rather about realizing your role as a father, husband, and human. I wish you good luck, I hope you quit your job and do something else, something that makes sense in your eyes. And don’t worry, a new relation will come sooner or later. You are not the first or the last sad person on the Earth.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. John, maybe you have gained some skills, insights, abilities through your last 20 years that can make your next 20 years into something like the life you once hoped to lead. Few of us go on to lead the lives we envisioned as idealistic young people. Can you really backpack around the world all your life? I have a friend who has been doing it for more than a decade, but he has had to give up on having a family or long term relationship. Yes, “the love of money is the root of all evil”….. but if you know how to gain money and are willing to give it away, you can have a big impact. There are kids around the world with deformed faces who can have their lives revolutionized by a series of surgeries that cost $1000 through Smile Train. There are children who drop out of school after primary school slimly because they can’t afford a bicycle and it’s too far to walk to the middle school. A $50 bicycle!

    Some older people from my town had never had children and now were too old. One day at the Mother’s Day observance in their church, they felt called to leave behind the life they knew and start an orphanage in the Philippines. A few years later, not only are they caring for dozens of children, they decided to adopt a few of them. They thought they would never be parents, but now they are in a big way. Without their focus on careers and material success earlier in life, they wouldn’t have had the house to sell to finance their orphanage in their retirement years.

    It is not too late for you! Throwing away your career and going off to backpack around the world at 46 is not necessarily your best path. “Do what you love and the money will follow” is not necessarily true. ” Do what you have to to earn money, but save time to do what you love” can be better advice. Your mistake was letting your job take over your life. Your mistake was not that you had a job. Everyone needs to earn a living one way or the other. I wouldn’t count on becoming a famous novelist. If you enjoy writing in your spare time, go for it! (But then you will have less time to devote to relationships.) If you enjoy travel, go for it! (But then you will have less time for writing, or for relationships.) If you want to help the poor or homeless, go for it!) Maybe you can even combine that with your desire to travel, and your desire to write. Maybe, like the older couple in my town, this will lead to a new family for you.

    I do volunteer work in Cambodia. I can do this work because of the career I had earlier in life which gives me the resources to do this. I am building schools. I work with an orphanage. If I weren’t afraid of the responsibility and if I had more confidence in may abilities to be a good parent, I certainly could adopt children. You may be able to repair your relationships with your first family, don’t give up on that! But you could also have a second family. It may be that you can be of much better service to poor people in other countries by keeping your job, and revolutionizing how central it is in your life. By devoting as much of your income as you can to helping the poor. They don’t really need a novel, or another backpacker to visit their country. Frankly, they need a wallet. But not a damn, emotionless wallet. They need a heaven sent, loving, connected wallet. Don’t overlook that option. You have a son. How old is he? If he’s a child, he needs a person supports him with love and connection and time, but who financially supports him also. He does not need a absent father backpacking around the world playing at writing a novel.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. John, your willingness to observe your life choices makes you endearing and I wish you much comfort in your future. Do not wallow in regrets from the past. It doesn’t serve you. Forgive yourself and others. Begin now, in this present moment, to accept where you are and to move forward with baby steps to a life that you choose to be fulfilling, compassionate and peacefilled. Your story strikes such a chord in me. The compassion I feel for your honesty and the compassion I feel in my own circumstances for myself and others is timely. I think you are courageous in opening up. I believe you have a new beginning inside of you. May you enjoy your next chapter. Choose wisely now that you have observed and experienced what you have ~ and now ‘lead with your heart’ (which happens to be my post today! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  10. John, you still have a lifetime ahead of you. I can only say this because I’m older than you, and I know how you feel. No, I didn’t make a lot of money, but I have spent many years in a profession I don’t enjoy, and my husband and I are collectively making plans to get out of our present careers. Go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. John:

    The only wisdom I have to offer is: you made yourself into that person, step by step, choice by choice. That may seem a condemnation, but it’s actually a recognition of your creative control over yourself. Once we realize that, we can either crash into a mid-life “crisis” (i.e., “Aren’t I a f*ckup”), or find a new purpose to guide our intellectual and economic skills. The discipline that you have learned then becomes focus that maximizes the gains from the chances you have to manifest your intention.

    That you wrote this suggests to me that young man is still inside of you. Maybe now is the time to unleash him on the world.

    Brian

    Liked by 2 people

  12. John, I was touched by your post, saddened a bit, but also very excited for you. You’re only 46 (trust me, that’s young), and you already see so clearly that the life you’ve been leading is not the life you want to lead any more. Some people never see that, or never have the courage to admit it if they do see. You have an adventure ahead of you—both an internal one and an external one. We don’t carry dreams around all our lives if the capacity to fulfill them is not inside us. Allow yourself to feel the pain you’re feeling and then start living the life that will make you whole and wholehearted. If you like to read, pick up a copy of Wayne Muller’s “How, Then, Shall We Live?” Savor every word and then start chronicling your own journey. Good luck. We are rooting for you!
    ~Donna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. John,

    Thank you for this post, and I get it. Age 46 is a kind of crossroads, and when you look at how long a life can be, you still have a lot of years ahead. Look at what you’ve learned. You do not come off as being too bitter; you’ve just had a dance with your regrets, and we all do that at different stages of our lives.

    Even if you were 96, there is still time! Look at what you now know, and listen to how you feel right at this moment. I have a strong feeling that this post is your springboard to an amazing life change. You may not see it all at once, but trust me–you’re on the way to something you are going to love.

    You may find someone to love deeply, you may find you know where to go with your book, you may decide to give yourself permission to go visit the Dali Lama. The world is your oyster, so grab a fork and some cocktail sauce and GO FOR IT! I have great faith in you.

    Please keep us posted.

    Best,

    Jane

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I once read “be the change you want to see.” That is what you need to do, John. Start by apologizing to your wife and your son. Tell them that starting today, you will be a different husband and father. Then date your wife again. Woo her like you did when you were young. Take an interest in your son’s interests. Ask questions. Take him fun places (arcade, anyone?). And if you need to quit your job to find another, do it. One more thing: you said you are an atheist, but you mentioned God twice in your writing. You may wish to rethink that view. I found that on He can help me become what I want to be.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This is one of the most inspiring posts I’ve read in a very long time. You are still in there, my lovely unmet friend. You don’t need any advice even though all the advice you’ve received was well meaning. Everything you need you already have. All good wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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