I was born with two speech impediments. I was a shy kid, with a crooked smile, who couldn’t pronounce any words correctly. Participating in theatre was the last thing anyone expected of me. Yet I wanted to sway crowds with my voice, make them cry, laugh and shout for joy. I was a terrified 10-year-old the first time I stepped on stage, and equally frightened moments before I finally performed at Lincoln Center. I walked slowly to my position full of fear, but when the spotlight hit my face, there was no trepidation, only a calmness and quiet determination. In that moment all the long hours of struggle fell into place. I had already accomplished what I had set out to do before my final performance. Just being there, having worked as hard as I had, made all the worry dissipate. It was just me and the light.
Being told that, categorically, he knows what he’s talking about and she doesn’t, however minor a part of any given conversation, perpetuates the ugliness of this world and holds back its light. After my book Wanderlust came out in 2000, I found myself better able to resist being bullied out of my own perceptions and interpretations. On two occasions around that time, I objected to the behavior of a man, only to be told that the incidents hadn’t happened at all as I said, that I was subjective, delusional, overwrought, dishonest–in a nutshell, female.
Since they often arrive at the same party, you may sometimes mistake regret for its cousin, Guilt. But don’t confuse the two. Guilt is just the attention-grabber wearing the short red dress. It is a more instant and intense feeling and so easier to take her home with you. Guilt is a negative emotion that arises from knowing you did something wrong at that moment. Focusing on guilt tends to keep the view narrow and in a self-centered present tense. It is inward-looking and carries a persistent bad feeling toward oneself; not necessarily toward the action or the person you harmed. And because of this self-imposed and self-absorbed burden, it normally does not lead to positive results; instead it often causes defensiveness, repression, depression, and anxiety. Guilt is not really a productive use of your time.