My Biggest Mistake in Life and Why I Can’t Regret It

I ran away from home at fifteen. My life wasn’t bad. My parents were (and still are) good people, who provided for me well. I never wanted for anything. I lived in a nice home. I did well in school. I didn’t have a drug problem (yet). I didn’t drink (yet).

So why on Earth did I think I was better off striking out on my own at such a young age? That’s a fair question. I suppose there were a lot of reasons. What I thought were reasons at any rate. I mean let’s be honest. What can a fifteen-year-old girl really know about what’s best for her?

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Just before my 7th-grade year began, my family moved to my father’s hometown. It was a town that was significantly smaller than the city suburb I had lived in up til this point. I had to leave my friends and the only home I had ever known. In addition to this, I also had to give up the perks of being in a more diverse school setting, in favor of a small town school. This was a huge shock to my mindset. I didn’t adjust well. I saw girls my age getting pregnant, and girls only slightly older with several kids, living in trailers, not finishing school, or ending up in alternative schools to finish out their education. This hit my independent, empowered, “bigger city” sensibilities hard. These kids were doing things I couldn’t understand. Drugs, drinking, sex. Even the ‘good’ kids were so different than the ones I knew. Of course, I fell in with some of them in a way, but honestly, I don’t think I really made many real friends. There is only one of them that I still communicate with to this day, and he has pretty much the same impression of life in this town as I do. He also left town before graduation, albeit he did things the correct way. With his family.

I’m not sure if it was just small-town boredom, or a need to feel more worldly, or what it was, but these new people were a different kind of rebellious. Here is a town, comprised pretty completely of white, middle-class people, and the kids were coming to school talking about gangs, ghetto life, and sporting their blue bandanas, and acting crazy. It baffled me. The kids I went to school with while living in my previous city (of all races and backgrounds) didn’t act like that, and here were all these small-town teenagers claiming things that I (and most likely they) had only seen in movies and heard on the news. Yes, it was all bullshit posturing, and I knew it right away.

I came to a conclusion. There was NO FREAKIN WAY that I wanted to end up in the same situations that I found these kids in. No access to any real diversity. No real culture. No art. No class. So I guess in short, I felt that I was saving my own life.

In true teenager fashion though, I gave no thought at all to what running away would really be like. What kinds of dangers I would encounter. The risks.

This could turn into a really long story here if I were to go into everything that I did during my almost five years on the run. Who knows? Maybe one day I will write a book.

Long story short, eventually, I ran out of money. I knew I didn’t want to end up on the street, and I had a moral compass instilled in me from my upbringing that wouldn’t allow me to do certain things. I found a way to obtain an ID in a different state and used that to gain employment in an exotic dance club as a dancer. Hey, it’s better than hooking on the corner or living under a bridge. I was able to make money, honestly, without falling into a life that most runners end up in one way or another. I rented a room to live in. I didn’t have to kiss my dignity goodbye. It was a job. I went to work, I made my money, I went home and paid my bills.

I honed my artistic skills. I exposed myself to culture. I lived a life. I saw the country, met people from all walks of life. Learned acceptance. Respect. Responsibility.

I also developed a nasty drug habit that it took years to get control of and eventually break. I didn’t get to finish school. I still only have a 9th-grade education. It took a LONG time to make up for the time I took away from my parents (who tirelessly searched for me for almost 5 years until I finally called them up), and my younger siblings who never had their big sister in their lives.

What I have come to realize though, is, if I wouldn’t have done what I did, I would be a completely different person. As much as there are things about what I did that aren’t well done, that is what I come back to each and every time I give thought to it.

I can’t regret running away. Because if I could turn back the clock and do it differently, I wouldn’t be the me I am today. The me I feel fortunate to be. With my quirks, and my talents, and my passions. I would be another me, and it’s possible I wouldn’t like her as much.

This is just my story. One of countless others. Most teenage runaways don’t have it as easy as I did. Most aren’t as lucky. A lot of them are escaping one horror for another. If you are a young person, that feels like this is your only option, stop and think for a moment. There is help out there. There are people who will listen. You don’t have to set out all on your own and pray for a better life.

Alone

If you are an endangered runaway or are thinking of running away from home in the United States, call:

The National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-RUNAWAY

If you are being abused in your home call:

ChildHelp National Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD

If you are in another country and know your area’s hotlines or websites that help endangered runaways, I would love for you to put them in the comments. This isn’t just an American problem, and there are troubled kids everywhere. 

Thanks for reading!

Kat (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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26 comments

    • Thank you so much. I struggle with sharing this part of my life for fear of romantizing it. I want kids to explore smarter options when things are tough for them. Thank you for your words, and support it means so much!

      Like

  1. Wow this was a great testimonial to never regretting our mistakes because, really, the choices we make along the way are what make us who we are now. Keep up the good work! -Annabelle

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your parents and sisters and brother were heartbroken and scared for you. Not knowing where you were and if you were safe was unbearable.
    I understand you wouldn’t be who you are today if you hadn’t left home. I, too would not be who I am today if I hadn’t done the things I did at 15. But I only hurt myself. Not the ones who loved me most.
    It makes me happy you are okay with your past. You have always been a very smart girl. I’m glad you are all still a family. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. That is what tears me apart every time I think on the issue. It isn’t easy for me to think about the hurt I caused them, but at the same time, I am grateful for my experiences. I would never encourage another person to make the choices I did, but those choices are mine, and I have to live with them. Even the pain I feel over the hurt I caused, and the hardships I endured to become a part of my family again make me who I am. I believe I have more empathy as a result, as well as a more acute sense of the importance of family. Being without them for so long, I can’t imagine taking them for granted now. I am not sure the spoiled rotten, silver spoon fed young lady I was then would have been able to distinguish between what she was lucky to have, and what she was entitled to.

      You are pretty much family to us, and I judge all neighbors against you and your family. Thank you for reading, I love you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! It wasn’t the easiest post to write, but, there are other kids out there, and with the state of the world today I really want them to make a different decision. It’s dangerous out there, and I was lucky, but I know what could have happened. If I am able to keep even one teen from putting themselves in a dangerous situation, everything was worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very honourable of you. As you said, the teen years are no time for someone to know what they want or need from life. Experience is only gotten from living it and making mistakes. I like your attitude about not changing anything, as it would change who you are today. I have a similar mindset, that my mistakes shape who I am. Hopefully you can reach someone and get through to them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a moving story Kat! Its a shame that you felt that you should have left from home and go through all that on your own but as you said you would not have been the person u are today.

    Take care and be strong always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really is a shame. It was the foolish, selfish decision of a headstrong teenager. I can’t regret it, but I do recognize it for what it was. Thank you for reading and for your support! ❤

      Like

  4. I love how brave you are. I also like that you still find the good in every bad. You overcame your obstacales and you are now helping people through your mistakes. It takes a strong person to forgive yourself. Self forgiveness is so hard to do. I’m so glad that you let go of the baggage from you past and you learned to he happy and appreciate life. I admire you for that . If you do decide to write a book will purchase it . I would love to hear more about your journey. You are blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an inspiring post. It must have been difficult to open up like that. I love how your story ended so positively! I believe that you will be able to help many others sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing a part of you I never knew before. I’m glad you survived it, and I love the person you are today. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so young and on your own.

    Though our backgrounds and experiences are far different I relate strongly to one part of your message. I too have made poor decisions and mistakes in my life that I would recommend to no one, but also recognize they made me who I am today, and I like who I have turned out to be.

    No one can change their past,but we can if willing learn from it and hopefully help others with what we learn from experience. I love your courage and your attitude. I love you. You are awesome!

    So here’s a toast to life, to mistakes and lessons learned and to whatever adventure the future brings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love you so much Dave! You are one of the best friends we have ever had! Ken and I are proud to call you family! Thank you so much for this comment, and for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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