So, last week I celebrated my 39th birthday. I say celebrated, what I mean is, I sat in a pool of liquid that was running from my eyes and nose, while coughing up phlegm and alternating my clothing between woolly jumpers and tiny vests, in an attempt to try and control the fever that had taken hold of my whole being. Maybe a bit dramatic. But try a week of this and you might start to wonder if watching Netflix surrounded by snot rags is how you’ll see out your final days. The self-pity is magnified when those seven days are the run up to your birthday and questions you’ve never asked yourself start to enter your fragile mind… having a birthday in January when all anyone is talking about is New Year’s resolutions doesn’t help either.
What exactly have you achieved in those 38 years you call a life, Miss Bains? What regrets do you have? What would you change if you could go back in time? That last question might be a result of binge-watching the amazing new time-travel series Dark. Yes, I watched the whole ten hours on Netflix in just two days… between watching the whole of The Crown, Manhunt:Unabomber, Black Mirror and the new series of Love Sick. I don’t like wasting time… even when I’m sick.
So, what would I change? What regrets do I have? I’ve never been one to regret decisions I’ve made. OK, maybe leaving the front door open and letting the dog escape on Christmas Day is one. Oh, and every visit to Cheesecake Factory – but in general my regrets are more about things I didn’t do than things I did. And that can be small things: I still regret not going to see H.E.R at Sole DXB in December, despite my mate Cherelle talking about nothing else for the week leading up to the event, but I was just too busy to travel to D3 two days in a row, and now H.E.R is all I’m listening to. Then there’s not buying those second-hand boots I saw in London because they weren’t ‘fairly’ priced, just to get back to Dubai and realising they would have gone with every item of clothing I own, not that I’ve worn anything but PJs since I got back… did I mention I was ill?
There’s also big things I regret: Such as not spending enough time with my friends and family (lack of time and the distance being the excuse here), I’m sure that’s the same for a lot of people here in the UAE, there’s regretting not seeing enough of the world: again lack of time (I haven’t had a holiday abroad since November 2016). And then there is this one other regret, one I’m hoping I can do something about. I regret spending too much time working and not enough time enjoying myself…even typing the words makes me feel guilty for thinking it. What a first-world problem, hey? Maybe even a LOL for #DubaiProblems. But it’s honestly what I really regret about the last couple of years and it would appear that I’m not alone.
Bonnie Ware, care nurse, and author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying lists ‘working too hard’ in the book. She complied the list after speaking to patients of hers who were coming to the end of their lives. Alongside having wished they’d had more courage to be themselves, more courage to express their feelings, wishing they’d stayed in touch with friends and wishing they’d let themselves be happier was: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” And I guess in some way the last two could go hand in hand…working less could be a way of letting yourself be happier.
So that’s my New Year’s/birthday resolution: to work less. I’m hoping it will give me more time to do things I regret not doing, like traveling and spending more time with the people I love. That’s as soon as I shake off this cold…which in fact, has done an excellent job of making me work less this year already.
Devinder Bains is a journalist, personal trainer and co-founder of fitsquaddxb.com, find her on Instagram and Twitter: @devinderbains