Regrets + A Beautiful Bathroom.

By: Jen Shoop

A few weeks ago, just after I’d written my post on not getting into my first-choice school, a girlfriend called to share an interesting and completely contradictory experience to the one I’d described.

She’d gotten into her first-choice, Ivy League school, but had gone against the grain and her family’s wishes (she was a legacy!) and opted for a state school instead. The decision caused friction within her family, to the point that it remains a sore issue to this day. She went on to say that she still finds herself wondering what if…?

“In some ways, I envy that you didn’t get into your first choice school and that the decision was made for you. I feel like I was messing with fate. At least you can look back and say: I made lemonade out of lemons. Meanwhile, I don’t know what I was doing. Did I do the right thing?”

As she agonized, I could see that she was still wrestling with a very real and very pressing measure of regret — even now, over ten years after graduating. She went on to explain two or three other serious life situations where she’s been put in a position to decide between multiple options, noting that she’s felt something close to paralysis each time, likely owing to the uneasy experience of her college matriculation.

As we chatted, I realized that I’ve never experienced the decision paralysis she was describing. I can’t tell whether this is because I have — as she suggested — been fortunate enough to have many major life decisions made for me in a certain sense (I actually can’t remember a time where I’ve had to jockey between multiple possible and convincing options where a big life decision is concerned, with the exception of deciding not to pursue a cephalic version when I discovered that mini was breech — more on that below) or because I tend to develop really strong perspectives fairly quickly. For example, I knew Mr. Magpie was The One from nearly the dawn of our relationship — while I know many friends have had to struggle with deciding whether or not a relationship is worth pursuing (“is he the one?!” and “are we in this for the long haul?”). And I knew mini’s name was right for her and never thought twice about it, whereas many other friends have expressed ambivalence and even regret (I actually know a few women who have changed their babies’ names well after birth). Come to think of it, I rarely find myself doubting my own decision-making or regretting a choice I’ve made, with the exception of when I opted to schedule a c-section instead of attempting a cephalic version with mini to see whether we could get her into a head-down position for a vaginal birth. But even in that case, I spent so much time weighing the pros and cons and seeking the counsel of my doctor and trusted love ones, that in my moments of dubiousness, I would run back through my rationale and calm myself: “Yes, I made the best decision I possibly could have at that point.” And I’d relax into my decision. Or maybe I have cultivated sufficient confidence in the notion of “trusting my gut,” as things have always worked out one way or another, and with major faculties intact — so I’ve never given myself room to question the decisions I’ve made. I tend to hunt for “clues” and “signs” and “foreshadowings” in thinking about the path that has led me somewhere, and maybe this find-and-seek activity helps me better explain why I’ve done what I’ve done and why it makes sense within the context of “my story.”

What do you think? Have you experienced decision paralysis? If not, do you think it’s because you’ve never had occasion to weigh multiple possible options or because decision-making is easier for you for one reason or another?

Post-Script: An Elegant Bathroom.

Apropos of nothing at all: I am swooning over the elegant bathroom remodel by the husband and wife team behind The Happy Tudor.

Get the look…

+This simple hotel stripe shower curtain in the taupe, with a coordinating bath mat.

+Beautiful urn vases.

+Their exact wallpaper (stunning). If that’s not realistic, these framed panels or these (budget buy!).

+Tortoise water glasses (so chic!) or a tortoise tray.

+Fringed ottoman.

+An elegant bench. (Ahh, to have the space in a bathroom for a bench or ottoman.)

+Canvas cosmetics cases — love the print. (My utility pick: I use these to stow samples/minis/back-ups under my sink in a big bin.)

+Painted chinoiserie waste basket.

+Aerin scalloped towels.

+Clamshell catch-all.

+This pretty wastebasket. (Kind of like that it comes with a lid — no one needs to see bathroom trash.)

+Cane embossed tissue box cover.

+Hobnail vase.

+Colored tumblers.

+Flower tray.

P.S. My favorite acquisitions thus far this year.

P.P.S. The best products for home and little luxuries for even the smallest of homes.

P.P.P.S. Another super-inspiring room.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

10 thoughts on “Regrets + A Beautiful Bathroom.

  1. I am just like your friend! I’m a “what if”-er! There have been many times in my husband and my careers that have been a fork in the road. Just last week he was offered jobs in SF and Portland, OR! There is no right or wrong decision, just completely different options. The truth is I’ll never know what the other life-not-lived would have brought us. It’s the nature of his job to move around and we have from NYC – Chicago – NC – and up next … Portland. I’m terrified every time. I hate starting all over, but looking back I’m mostly glad for all of the moves. I’ve loved living in every location so far. That begs the worries – ‘now will be the time I hate it!’ haha Sometimes I just can’t get out of my own head. Looking back it’s felt like fate that has brought us to each new chapter so I have to have faith that this is another chapter that has good things waiting for us too. Thanks for sharing 🙂 also, LOVE that bathroom.

    1. Wow – that is a lot of brave relocating! I am so impressed. Moving is so hard (and courageous), though I do think — after pondering this post for the last few days — a lot of it is what you make of it / your general outlook on life. If you are able to look back and focus on the positive things that came from a big life change, everything “hangs together.”

      I think I will always/forever grapple with this balance between fate and agency. I just can’t quite figure out how they work together.


  2. This is such an interesting topic. I am more like you in the sense that I am rather decisive and come to decisions quickly & (relatively) easily. I would say that I am in tune with my gut feelings, too, and that they certainly make the decision-making process easier for me. I’m sure there are moments I’ve struggled with decision paralysis, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head! I strongly believe what April says in the comments, too, about the fact that there is a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as it becomes clear to me that I will probably not bear children — something I’ve always wanted. My brother and sister-in-law are having a daughter this summer, though, and they told us the name they chose for her, which was on my mental list of potential children’s names 🙂 I chose to see it as a beautiful sign that I will have children in my life who I can love and dote on without being a mother myself. xo

    1. Hi MK — Wow — thank you so much for sharing that. I’m sure you’ve been grappling with a range of emotions and applaud you for addressing the reality (or decision?) head-on. Thanks for chiming in here, as always.


  3. I once read some research that said we make up our minds at the subconscious level far before we ever realize it at the conscious level. So we may think we’re waffling and weighing our options, but deep down, we’re just talking ourselves into the decision we’ve already made. I think that can be interpreted as an endorsement of trusting your gut.

    I also think there is an element of privilege involved. To have multiple choices- and the time and space to weigh those choices- is a function of privilege. Though one could also say that it’s a privilege to never have to decide at all, and to have everything taken care of for you. Meaty subject! Lots of different ways to slice it, I think.

    1. Hi Anna – YES! I’ve heard the same thing, that we already have a predilection and that every bit of our being then rallies behind that decision once it’s been made. That’s a reassuring thought. And, as always, a lot to unpack!


  4. This bathroom is gorgeous and reminds me a lot of the lemon nursery you posted last summer! I love both.
    What are your thoughts on mixing metals? Brass is everywhere (now), which I love… but do you have to go all in or do you do some of each? All brass faucets/lights/towel rings/door knobs etc. I did not even know you could change the hardware on a toilet!

    1. Hi! Yes, you are so right in connecting this post to the nursery one — the wallpapering, the colors! I guess I’m drawn to that vibe, huh?

      On mixing metals: oof, I don’t know. I feel like this question is beyond my pay grade a bit. In our current bathroom, the hardware on the sink and the towel bars are brass but the door handle and toilet handle are polished silver. I’d never really noticed it until you asked — maybe because of the placement of these parts of the bathroom. Like, the toilet is at the other end and you don’t really see it if you’re looking at the sink. Maybe that element matters, i.e., if fixtures are close together, they should be the same metal, but if they’re not, you can mix and match?


  5. There’s so much to say here for me! I completely identify with your friend. Not only is decision making very difficult for me, I have more regrets than I wish. I do feel like decisions can carry lasting consequences. Though like you said – you do the best you can with the information you have at present. There are two other things I’ve learned in making decisions and making so-called mistakes – first, trusting your gut is SO important. Whenever I’ve gone against it is when I usually feel like I ended up in the wrong place. And second, you have to trust that no matter what comes of your decisions, there is a purpose and plan for your life. Pray consistently and seek wisdom. I wish I had known and followed these guidelines much earlier in life, but I guess, most often, wisdom comes from experience. xo

    1. These are both great rules of thumb to keep in mind — and distill, perfectly, the friction I feel when reflecting on my role in shaping the direction of my own life. At some points, I feel deeply responsible and empowered. At other points, I feel as though I’m floating along a pre-destined pathway and just accepting whatever comes my way. It can be hard to reconcile the two, but both are equally consoling for different reasons.

      Mainly, though, this: “Pray consistently.” Amen to this.


Previous Article

Next Article