It’s pretty rare for people to publicly admit their regrets. By virtue of being regretful, regrets are our most painful and embarrassing memories. They’re the times we became the worst versions of ourselves, or set ourselves up for failure. But they’re also the times that we likely learned something important, or in the very least engaged in self-reflection. So why do we fear admitting regret? And especially when we could probably learn from hearing others’ mistakes.
With this in mind we asked people on the streets around Collingwood, Melbourne: what’s your biggest and worst ever regret?
VICE: Hey Max what is your biggest regret in life?
Max: I slept with a girl who I really shouldn’t have slept with. My really good friend had a crush on her. And yeah, I slept with her behind his back.
Did that ruin your friendship?
He’s okay with it now but at the time it was really bad and we had a falling out. I owned up and was pretty honest about it. I just said a really big sorry, you know—a big apology. I don’t think it was technically wrong, it was fair game. But it was definitely a bit of a snaky thing to do.
Have you learned anything from this experience?
Oh yeah absolutely, bros before hoes.
Hey Elsje what’s your single biggest regret?
I recently went skiing and I had an accident and I broke my leg and it was a great excuse to start smoking again. So, because I broke my leg and I started smoking again, now I have to try to kick the habit.
Why did you start smoking again?
So, I was a very active person and creative person and I found after the surgery it was very difficult for me. I actually got depression, so in my depression I thought what a great excuse. Because I have been longing to smoke again. I have been a smoker for years and I managed to quit and I was just like you know what fuck it, I’m just going to start smoking again. And I say that as I smoke a cigarette on the street.
Do you regret smoking that cigarette right now?
Well I like my vogue menthol slims and they are $35 for 20 cigarettes so it’s a pretty big expense.
So, if you did quit what would be the reason?
Health, price—I would probably stop getting sick so often, and I wouldn’t have to take as many breaks at work. I wouldn’t have to hide the fact that I am a smoker from my parents. Probably just not getting lung cancer would be another big benefit of not smoking.
Are you thinking of quitting seriously anytime soon?
I want to go to Japan in April, so my goal would be to quit smoking before my birthday in April. So that I am not smoking when I am 29.
Hey Aleksander what’s is your biggest life regret?
It would be not giving myself time and setting way too many goals. Basically I was rushing a lot of things. I wanted to achieve too much too fast.
How did you figure out you needed to chill out on your goals?
Thanks to my wife I’ve started taking things a bit slower. I take everything step by step now and it’s just making sure that I worry about my mental health first, rather than rushing into things and putting myself into a situation that I regret.
Do you feel more at peace now with life?
Life-wise, I’m at the stage where I am turning things around. I’m feeling more positive about myself. I think it’ll just take time and time is one of those assets we need to look after. I’m at the start of it, but I’m already seeing results.
What was the most important thing you’ve learned from this regret?
If I am not here then the goal won’t ever happen. So, I think I need to worry about myself first before I worry about anything else.
Hey Chantelle what’s your biggest regret?
A tattoo on my arm that I just got lasered off about 10 minutes before I saw you.
What was the tattoo?
It was a flower.
Why did you get it removed?
It was just reminding me of like a bad and rushed time in my life, where I was making too many bad decisions.
Do you have more tattoos, or will you get more in the future?
I do have some more but there is a lot more thought put into those ones, and they were done at a better timing in my life.
What is your biggest regret in life?
Not finishing my education in Ghana and moving to America.
Why do you think staying in Ghana would have been better than moving to America?
I would have got closer to my roots. I just feel like it would have put me on a different path in life. America had more opportunities, but I think I’d have ended up in the same place that I am in right now if I’d stayed in Ghana. But I’d have had a better life experience, if that makes sense.
Since being in Australia have you visited Ghana?
No, not yet. When I was in America I went back to Ghana but since moving to Australia I haven’t been back. But I’m planning on going next year. It has been three years, so too long. My family is in Ghana and I’m the only one in Australia.
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This article originally appeared on VICE AU.