From The Blog

Tips For Adulthood: What Would You Erase From Your Life?

On Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood. A while back on Facebook, my friend Sharon Hyman – of Neverbloomers fame  (check out her new film!)...

On Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

A while back on Facebook, my friend Sharon Hyman – of Neverbloomers fame  (check out her new film!) – posted the following status update:

“If you could go back and etch-a-sketch away some part of your life, what would it be?”

Wow. What  a great question. I’ve always believed that regret is a central component of adulthood. But many of our regrets are really longings,  so we wouldn’t want to erase them, because they define who we are.

In contrast, I love the concept of the etch-a-sketch – that iconic childhood toy – to capture those aspects of our past that we’d truly like to eliminate so that even the vestiges of their imprint don’t remain.

So I got to thinking about what would be on my etch-a-sketch list. Here’s what I came up with. I’d love to hear from you, too:

1. Smoking. Yes, it’s true. I was a smoker for several years of my life. For a long time, it was just a social thing I did a few times a week with my friends when we were out drinking. This was college, after all, and our entire lives lay ahead of us. Who really thought about mortality? But then, during my first year of graduate school, I actually became a smoker. You know, one of those people who woke up in the morning and not terribly long after awakening, felt the need to have a cigarette. Boy, I wish I could erase that phase of my life. Because with what we now know about smoking – and its effects not only on our own health, but on those around us – I fully appreciate why my mother burst into tears when I announced to her that I was a smoker.

2. Not being an athlete. I’ve never been much of an athlete. As I’ve frequently bemoaned , during my childhood I was really only ever good at bowling and pool. In fact,  the only time I was ever actively solicited to join a sports team was when – during the orientation session during my Freshman year at college – some large, extremely fit blond creature ambled over and – no doubt hearing my rather loud voice and observing my less-than-commanding frame – asked if I’d ever thought about being a coxswain for the crew team. (Um, honey? I’ve never heard the term coxswain before you just uttered it but…um…no?) But in light of all the benefits sports have for kids – particularly girls – I now wish that I’d pushed myself to do more to participate in sports when I was young, even without being good at them.

3. My perm. Much like smoking, another erase-worthy event in my life is that permanent I had back in high school. We all have our hair issues, God knows. My own stem from my baldness and perennial wish that I could have more body in my hair than that one, isolated cowlick in that upper, front-left corner of my scalp. And so, during a brief period in high school, I sported a perm. I wish I could show you a picture – so that you might cringe along with me – but suffice to say that it wasn’t a pretty picture. My friends in college called it “The Jersey Flip” to convey that singular hideousness that is often attributed to my home state.

4. Not pursuing journalism earlier. Although I’m a big believer that figuring out what you want to do with your life professionally takes a lot of time and thought, I really wish that I’d become a journalist earlier on in life. I think that if I’d known myself better – or, better put – trusted myself more – I would have realized earlier on that journalism combined many of my passions in life, including writing, travel and, above all, analyzing people. I’m particularly drawn to the romantic image of the 20-something foreign correspondent in a war-torn country, dodging bombs and filing stories with a glass of bourbon at hand, a la Shutter Babe or The Year of Living Dangerously. Maybe it wouldn’t have been quite so romantic in real life, but it’s one of those things I really wish I could go back and do over.

5. Him. Oh, c’mon. We all have one.

How about you? What would you go back and erase from your past?


Image: Cigarette by Sudipto_Sarkar via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.


Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Cecilia August 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Oh yes, the perm! Sadly, I do have pictures of mine, including one hideous close up the day I got home from the hair salon. The perm really added no value to my life; in fact, it detracted from it…

    Athleticism for me too. I’m starting late – better than never – but how different my life would have been had I started as a child or even young adult.

    I’d always wished I could erase the guys I dated before I met my husband, but then I also wonder if I would have found and appreciated my husband if I never had those earlier unhealthy experiences.

    • delialloyd August 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      @Cecilia-so nice to know that I wasn’t the only one with a perm. Re: Men. You have a point. I feel the same way-live and learn!

  2. Your Friend August 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    So…. you would erase the 1980s?! And part of the 1990s? You are not alone, sister!

    Maybe just put them away for a while, and when you bring them out in the early 2030s they will seem hilarious, wonderful and most of all survived-through. All except that last one…. go ahead and shake the Etch-A-Sketch on him.

    • delialloyd August 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      @your friend. Thx for dropping by these parts. It is lovely to see you here. And yes, it is generational…you are quite right.

  3. Howard Baldwin August 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    I believe it was Dear Abby who once said that you can judge someone’s character by the number of things they regret.

    I wish I could erase the damage of being raised by an alcoholic parent, or at least I wish I could have recognized it sooner.
    I would erase some of the decisions I made in giving up on things too soon because they were too challenging.
    I would erase my naivete and insecurity.
    I would erase the decision to go to the office instead of the 49ers game the weekend after the 1989 earthquake.
    I would erase the way I treated most of the women I dated.

    I would not erase the fact that I found a fantastic therapist, stopped being such a sniveling co-dependent, married an amazing woman, and fashioned a really, really wonderful life.

    • delialloyd August 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

      @howard, what a great list! Love the niners ref…but how wonderful that you worked it all out…I think we all learn from our scars. I really do. And sometimes they inspire us to be better.

  4. Donna Trussell August 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    re Him: What, no link? C’mon… :)

    • delialloyd August 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm #


  5. BigLittleWolf August 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Actually, I loved my perm! (*grin*)

    But I would erase certain events to do with divorce, despite the life lessons they taught;

    I would erase the manner in which I chose to deal with certain conflicts when I was much younger (oh, those foolish 20s!);

    I would have embraced my passions fully years earlier (much as you indicated);

    I would erase that dare in college… to run a mile, not being a runner, in 3″ platforms. Ouch.

  6. delialloyd August 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    @biglittlewolf – really??? (vis perm…) That dare sounds like something you would ONLY do in college…!

  7. Cathy August 29, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    For sure – smoking. That I would etch-a-sketch away in a heartbeat. Everything else, I don’t think I would change because I don’t want to feel like I have a list of regrets.

Leave a Reply