real life

50 women share their biggest life regret.

This post deals with suicide and might be triggering for some readers.

Looking back, almost all of us have at least one regret.

Whether that's something small or life-altering, there's that one thing we wished we'd done differently. 

So we asked the Mamamia community to share their biggest life regret. Here's what 50 of them had to say.

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1. Jessie

"I regret not wearing sunscreen consistently until my late 20s."

2. Simone

"My biggest regret is not going on exchange while I was at uni. I think it would have been the best experience and now I feel like I'm too settled here and established in my career to pick up and move overseas."

3. Renny

"I regret not saving from an earlier point in my life. Even if it was a small amount, I now understand how much that would have helped now."

4. Carol

"I wish I'd finished Year 12 - I left halfway through the year. I would have loved to have gone to uni."

5. Megan

"I regret losing my virginity before marriage. I was scared I wouldn't be able to have sex if I didn’t have experience, I now know that having sex is easy when you feel safe."

6. Aleisha

"I wish I travelled in my early 20s before having kids."

7. Natalie

"Mine is not signing up for critical illness insurance (got the quote, said yes in my head but evidently not to the insurer) before being diagnosed with breast cancer at 40. I wouldn't have had to work again. Having said that, I'm still alive and well at 50 so I guess it's not all bad.️ It would have been nice to be debt-free though..."

8. Jacqui

"I regret not taking better care of my teeth when I was younger! So many fillings."

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9. Donna

"I regret not educating myself sooner about sexism, rape culture and slut-shaming, while raising my daughters. I got there eventually but I worry that I was a little late."

10. Renee

"Not travelling around Australia when I was 19. I chose the responsible option of working, saving and buying a house. Biggest regret."

11. Kara

"I wish I'd taken better care of myself when I had a serious autoimmune disease in my last year of high school. I had so much FOMO that I still went to all the parties and drank alcohol every weekend. What I should have been doing was taking care of myself, eating well and resting more."

12. Charlie

"I regret never finishing my application to New York University. Who knows if I'd even get in but one of my best friends did and now lives there and almost daily I think, what if?"

13. Hayley

"Wasting four years of my early 20s with the wrong guy. I should have been out seeing the world and having adventures. I really regret it because even at the time I knew deep down it wouldn’t last and that it wasn’t the right thing for me, but fear of change held me back."

14. Carol

"Getting a credit card!"

15. Lisa

"Buying a property with my then-boyfriend in my 20s. I put down a hefty deposit I saved up and nothing was in my name so he could get the first home buyers grant. I was dumb. I fought to get my deposit back when we split, he sold it and made $250k..."

16. Siobhan

"Not taking up a paid internship with Interpol in France because I was 'too tired' after completing my Masters."

17. Kylie

"I had a fork in the road where I was seeing someone casually who I knew really liked me - I can remember the exact moment when I thought, 'Nah, he’s not for me' but I just never said it out loud. Seven years later I finally made the break. Now, I'm 45 with three children with my lovely husband - the youngest is five. I wouldn't trade my beautiful kids for anything but I just wish I'd had them younger."

18. Virginia

"I regret not being a better sister... but grateful that I have that chance now."

19. Denise

"Having just clocked my 50th rotation around the sun, I regret not travelling in my early 20s. I graduated high school and pretty much went into full-time work. The first time I went overseas, I was 45 years old and cried because I hadn’t been sooner."

20. Mikayla

"The smallest of regrets but I regret selling my 2015 Tame Impala tickets for their show at the Opera House forecourt on their Currents tour. I only sold it cause I'd just started Year 12 and wanted to study... I think about that tour every day."

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21. Yasmin

"Not getting into the property market earlier."

22. Rebekah

"I wish I'd moved away from my hometown for university; staying was the sensible, easier choice but I wish I’d spread my wings."

23. Leah

"I regret not taking a gap year - going from high school to uni to postgrad to full-time work has been exhausting, but with that said, it’s got me to where I am now."

24. Paula

"Probably pissing my money up a wall in my early 20s instead of getting into the property market. But had I not done what I did I wouldn’t be the person I am today. So I don’t know how much I actually regret it."

25. Karen

"I regret dyeing my own hair blonde at home in my teens! I've been on a long journey to try to grow my hair since."

26. Natasha

"Not seeing the signs early in and ditching THAT boyfriend earlier."

27. Susannah

"Not moving to the UK and doing the working holiday thing when I had the chance."

28. Lily

"I regret not saving more from when I was younger too (although it did mean I travelled a lot and lived out of home from when I was 18 which was invaluable). I regret staying in bad relationships in my younger years because I didn't know any better. This is quite heavy - but also I regret not flying home from my family holiday for a funeral when a friend passed away when I was 21."

29. Taryn

"I regret that I never did that year-long full-time dance course after high school and instead felt I needed to go straight to uni…"

30. Molly

"I wish I started saving more frugally at a younger age!"

31. Genevieve 

"I regret not finishing my degree. Not because I feel like it's roadblocked my career but before ye olde pandemic, it felt like a roadblock to being able to move and work overseas in the jobs I wanted and was applying for."

32. Emily

"I regret doing Music 2 for HSC. The pressure was insane and I’m still going to therapy to treat the performance anxiety it induced."

33. Emmeline

"Going to college. I studied radio broadcasting then decided I didn't want to work in radio in the end (at least not at that time - I had been working in radio for a few years). I should have probably taken some time off instead as I'd been working full time, sometimes seven days a week, since I left school. That said, I'm sure it's been helpful now I work in podcasting."

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34. Clare

"I regret not travelling more pre-pandemic. I think of all the things I thought I'd just do later and now I'm like... will there be a later?!?! I also regret not giving people the benefit of the doubt when I was younger (like early 20s). I was very cynical and judgy and assumed most people were acting with malice, and now I'm more of the opinion that most people are doing their best with what they have." 

35. Emma

"I regret not studying art at university because I was told it wasn't a 'real degree'."

36. Madeline

"I regret not spending more time talking to my grandparents and hearing their stories... our language barrier made it tricky but now most of them are gone and so are their stories."

37. Katie

"Two completely different scale regrets: I regret not getting my skin checked earlier, having melanoma during a COVID lockdown was utter shit. I regret every single Topshop bubble dress I ever owned. Complete disaster, every time."

38. Claire

"I regret injuring my knee when I was a teenager and for not taking better care of my body over time. It limits so much of what I can do now. I regret caring about my now-husband not proposing to me for so many years and all the dumb fights we had about it. I regret not visiting my friend that one last time before he died because I had shingles and was in pain. I regret spending so much money on chocolate."

39. Talia

"I regret my ex-boyfriend - although many lessons learned, the relationship went on for way too long."

40. Jennifer

"Mine is letting people take advantage of me financially when I was young, I’m still paying for those mistakes now. Also not taking control of my health issues sooner rather than later."

41. Leesa

"I know I can’t really change this - even at the time, but I spent so much of my early twenties wanting to die. I was severely depressed and suicidal. I wasted my youth being depressed, drinking it away and letting myself get abused by worthless men. But I’m here now and I am so glad I am!"

42. Leigh

"I regret not buying tickets to the opening night of Hamilton in Melbourne when they went on sale yesterday. It kept me up all night!"

43. Alyssa-Jane

"I regret not being more confident in a lot of areas in my life. I have so many great shower conversations with myself after a situation where I could have said something better or stood up for myself louder."

44. Jacqui

"Choosing my university course based on what my parents wanted, not what I wanted. I dropped out halfway and now work in a job I hate in a big corporation - I wanted to be an artist. I would have been poor but happy I think."

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45. Lisa

"Worrying about boys instead of having hobbies!"

46. Stefanie

"I wish I travelled more before I had kids. And I wish I better appreciated all my free time and lack of responsibility before I had kids!"

47. Margie

"I’m just past half a century young and my biggest regret would be owning an at-home solarium bed in my teens. Oh, and smoking till I was 30 - revolting habit. I'm doing my best now to age as gracefully as humanly possible."

48. Emma

"I wish I’d studied to work in wildlife or environmental conservation instead of falling into and staying in the hospitality industry. I’m trying to find a way in now, but at 34 and without going back to school for a million years, it’s tough."

49. Pru

"Mine would definitely be getting in a disastrous seven-year relationship and not travelling overseas and seeing the world."

50. Sascha

"I wish I saved money from the get-go. Now 30 and four kids deep with no savings and renting."

What's your biggest regret? Tell us in the comments below.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature image: Getty.

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