5 of My Biggest Regrets

“When you KNOW better, you DO better.” — Maya Angelou

Imma Baradyana
6 min readJan 29, 2023
Photo by Hoang Le on Unsplash

Some people say they have no regrets. I do. To clarify, I don’t blame myself for some of the things I wish I had done differently in the past. After all, learning is part of living and so is forgiving ourselves. We’re human — we make mistakes, we fall, we learn, and we grow.

I’ll be turning 30 at the end of March and somehow, I feel like I can’t stop reflecting. Every other day, I pause and ask myself some really tough questions: What am I really proud of? What is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far? Am I a good person — kind, loving, supportive? Am I doing the best with the life I’ve been given? Am I truly, deeply happy?

I won’t be answering any of those questions in this article, but it is those type of questions that have forced me to take stock of where I am today and how some of my past decisions and behaviours have led me here.

If you’re on a healing and growth journey like I am, I’d like to invite you to read the next paragraphs with two perspectives. First, there’s the perspective of regret — the part of me that wishes I had done things differently. Second, there’s the growth perspective because let’s face it, every mistake has a hidden lesson that we can take with us and use to improve our lives.

As you read through what I consider to be my top regrets, don’t miss the beautiful lessons embedded in each of these experiences. You can’t do much with my regrets, but you can use them as a starting point to evaluate your own life and to make some important changes.

Regret #1: Saying NO to the people I love.

I had a chat with a friend just last night where I admitted that I don’t feel like I knew my father well. I lived in a two-parent household and even though I was a daddy’s girl, I can’t say with much confidence that I really knew the man.

When I was 10, I told him I wanted to go to boarding school and he tried to talk me out of it for weeks. He wanted to spend more time with me but everyone I knew was going to boarding school and I felt like I was missing out. Sure enough, he passed away when I was 16 and the rest is history.

Sometimes, I can’t help but think about all the memories I would have made with him if I had stayed home instead of going to boarding school at such a young age. We would have shared numerous breakfasts, dinners, and hugs — things I would never be able to do again.

The lesson here is that we tend to think we have more time with the people we love than we really do. We put them on hold to pursue whatever we think is more important. “I’ll call him tomorrow” we say and tomorrow never comes. Take it from me, don’t be that person. Stop saying no to the people you love the most.

Regret #2: Waiting until my late 20s to be serious about my financial health.

I’m not proud of the way I handled my money in my late teens and early to mid-20s. I’ve been working since I was 16, which is when I got my first job as a library assistant at the University of Dar Es Salaam Business School.

If I had started saving $20 a month at 16, I would now have $3,120 more than I have today. If I had invested that money in the stock market over the past 13 years, assuming a 5% rate of return, I would have $4,473 today. If my monthly contribution was $100 instead, I would have $22,002 today.

The lesson here is, don’t be like me and go get your finances in order. The earlier the better.

Regret #3: Being too scared to negotiate my salary early on in my career.

While we’re on the topic of money, I’m ashamed to admit that the first time I negotiated my salary with an employer was 2021. Isn’t that insane? At that point, I had been working for 5 years and not once before that did I try to ask for what I’m worth. The funny thing is when I got the courage to ask, I got my desired package and it helped me go after some of the goals I didn’t think I could afford, like pursuing an MBA.

If there’s something you need but are too scared to make your needs known, don’t be. Nothing changes unless you ask for it to change.

Regret #4: Thinking my mental health isn’t so important until my late 20s.

Our minds are probably the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. We are all traumatized in some way. Our past experiences have shaped us for better or worse. We carry those experiences and their associated traumas with us and they inform how we view the world, what we think is possible, and how we handle our relationships.

Hurt people hurt people and the only way not to be one of those people is to heal ourselves. For a long time, I postponed working on my mental health until I didn’t like the person I saw when I looked in the mirror. I wanted her to grow, to heal, and to stop numbing herself with work.

Your mental health is just as important as any other aspect of your health. As you’re taking care of everything else, don’t forget to take care of your mind.

Regret #5: Thinking the grass is always greener.

Right of the bat, I’ll tell you it’s not. I really wish I had learnt in my early 20s to work with who and what I have in my life. I use the word “work” on purpose because everything worth having takes work.

The moment I learnt to appreciate everyone and everything I already had is the moment I started to attract everything and everyone I wanted. Why it took me so long to adopt an attitude of gratitude, we will never know.

Unless you’re grateful today, you won’t be grateful when you get to where you think you’re supposed to be and eventually, you will lose that too. While we’re still on this, I am very grateful for everyone I have in my life at this exact moment. Thank you for doing life with me!

Mistakes in life are unavoidable. We will make them. What’s important is what we do with the lessons we learn from those mistakes. Fail forward they say — that’s what life is all about.

I hope this article has inspired you to improve specific areas of your life. Please share your regrets and the accompanying lessons with me in the comments section. I want to learn from you too.

Until next time, keep learning!


Imma Baradyana is an international technology professional, storyteller, and aspiring motivational speaker who writes about her personal, professional, and academic experiences. Each of her stories includes actionable advice and tips that are designed to help you along your journey.

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Imma Baradyana

International tech professional. Writes about personal, professional, and academic experiences. Learn more at immabaradyana.com