The Art Of Regret campaign by Amanda Prowse
is an emotional art project designed to get women to share their secret regrets and potentially see them turned into empowering artworks. Ready for a new chapter in your life? It’s time to let go of old feelings
Do you look back on the most painful moments of your life with regret?
Do you lay awake at night replaying old memories in your head, repeatedly?
Have you kept your regrets a secret from those around you, fearful of what others may think?
If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone.
You’re in the same position as Bessie, a
woman anchored to the past by shame in
Waiting to Begin, the new novel from international best-selling author Amanda Prowse.
To celebrate the book’s release, we are shining a light on the refreshingly honest confessions of women as they share not only the biggest regrets of their lives, but the lessons they learnt and how they used them to empower their futures.
With The Art Of Regret, we are aiming to re-define regret and empower more women to make peace with their pasts.
Through a series of bold and striking posters in a number of cities across the UK, The Art Of Regret will encourage women to embrace their past mistakes – they cannot be changed, they cannot be undone, they cannot be forgotten. Instead, we must own them, move on from them, and learn from them!
We want to hear your stories and experiences of regret to show women everywhere they are not alone in the struggle to own their pasts—and embrace their futures.
Waiting to Begin
From the best-selling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: what would you risk for a shot at happiness?
1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.
2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.
Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?
Amanda Prowse is an international best-selling author whose 27 novels, seven short stories and a non-fiction, autobiographical book, have been sold worldwide in a number of languages. Her chart-topping number one titles What Have I Done?, Perfect Daughter, My Husband’s Wife, The Girl in the Corner and The Things I Know have sold millions of copies around the world.
Published by Amazon Publishing, Amanda Prowse is one of the most prolific writers of contemporary fiction in the UK today; some of her titles also score the highest online review approval ratings for several genres.
Expert Psychologist, Emma Kenny,
on the nature of regrets
Every single human will, at some point in their lives, feel a sense of regret – and while this can evoke some strong and negative feelings, it can also provide positive, life-changing growth. The art of regret acknowledges there’s worth in every single action we take, even when those actions lead to consequences that, on reflection, we didn’t desire.”
“Often, it is during the most challenging times that we learn the most about who we are, and about what we want to achieve from life. Through these experiences, we grow in resilience, learn to take positive risks, avoid making the same mistakes again, and become aware of our self-power – all of which contribute to a highly empowering state from which we can truly thrive.
How To Use Your Regrets to Empower You
Don’t focus on regret. This will trigger a sense of loss, and it certainly won’t change what has already taken place. Instead, ask yourself what you’ve learned from your past experiences, whether negative or positive. When you’re able to identify a learning, you can assign a sense of value to even the harshest lessons and losses, which will ultimately help you grow as a person.
Don’t be ashamed of your regrets. All too often, we keep our feelings of regret to ourselves, because we’re convinced that mistakes and bad choices are something to feel embarrassed about, which makes overcoming these feelings more challenging. By talking with friends and family about the reality of your regret, you can work through those difficult feelings and move on.
Practice gratitude. Every day, reflect on three things you’re grateful for, along with one you struggled with, but ultimately learned from. By treating your challenges as opportunities, you’ll be able to see the silver lining, even when times are tough.
Know that you are human. While regrets feel very personal, the truth is we all experience them. This won’t solve your feeling of regret, but it will provide some much-needed perspective by reminding you the only thing you’re guilty of is being human and fallible.
Help it to make you a better person. If you have regrets about your actions and behaviour, it’s never too late to apologise for them. Even though you may not get the outcome that you desire, acknowledging your accountability and responsibility can help you process the difficult feelings. And, even if you’re not forgiven, you can walk away knowing you did the right thing.
Don’t fear regret. It’s far better to take risks and fall flat on your face, than to live with fear of failure. Life is fleeting and you must grab every opportunity, even if it leads to errors. Living fully means making mistakes, but the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Please see below for some regret stories women have already shared with us as part of the launch of The Art Of Regret campaign.
Any new regret stories or empowering messages submitted through the submission box above may also be selected by us to be displayed here on The Art Of Regret micro-site or in other media to promote The Art Of Regret campaign and/or Amanda Prowse’s book Waiting to Begin. As mentioned above, such submissions will be completely anonymous.
Lynne, 42, Glasgow
I used to work in a high-pressure sales job. My whole life was focused on my career and money. After a while, I began to question what I really wanted in life, and the negative impact my job was having on my physical and mental health.
I started exercising to help my anxiety and left my job before I was pushed out of the door. I ran a marathon and focused on my health, took a fun part-time job in retail, and volunteered to help people with dementia. I was so much happier, and although I felt quite lost (my job had been a big part of my identity), I decided to re-train so I could pursue a career that was more rewarding, with less focus on money. I earn a lot less, but I am a more balanced person as a result – and, ironically, I am now much better with money! I also know I am a strong person – the easiest thing I could have done was keep going… the hardest part was rebuilding my life again.
Katie, 42, Bristol
I have worked in cabin crew for nearly 20 years, and my biggest regret is not exploring and experiencing more. There are two reasons I missed out – firstly, I have always been watching my finances: and secondly, I have always been conscious of my weight.
I avoided so many incredible places because I did not want to get into my swimming costume in front of anyone. And while my colleagues and friends were enjoying amazing food and wine in new countries, I would be eating in my room to save pennies.
Since the pandemic, and with the threat of losing my job, I have come to realise just how much I have missed out on. I now feel empowered enough to wear that swimming costume, and I am itching to get back to the skies so I can enjoy every minute of travelling, embrace all these fabulous experiences, and not care about what everyone thinks of those extra lbs and pennies… life is far too short!
Annie, 43, London
I regret not focusing on staying single and independent. From a young age, I had a very independent personality. I was a top student, and largely took care of myself. I also wanted to become a mother one day. However, my first partner turned out to be an extremely lazy man. While he played video games at home, I held down a full-time job, studied part-time for a Master’s degree, and did all the housework.
My subsequent relationships were also emotional rollercoasters, two of which were violent and abusive. I was only a functional partner to them. Without knowing it myself, I had become depressed, embarrassed, and had lost all the confidence of my teenage years.
Since then, I have been solo travelling and visited 88 countries. At 43 years old, I now realise that I got into those narcissistic, abusive relationships because of my yearning to become a mother. If I could talk to 20-year-old me, I’d say: “Live a happy life alone and prepare to be a single mother at 30. Do not waste time finding a husband. It’s a privilege to be a woman.”
Lynsey, 32, Scotland
I remained friends with someone who didn’t have my best interests at heart. Their advice was often quite hurtful, carried negative connotations, and more often than not, benefitted her rather than myself. Even then, I was blind to it.
Pulling myself away from her was difficult, but I now know that true friends don’t put you down or doubt your ambition. Ironically, I learned many life lessons from having such a negative friend, and it’s helped me build much stronger, positive relationships with other people now. I understand what good friendships are made of, what my limits are, and how to have realistic expectations of myself and others.
I do, however, regret not cutting her out of my life sooner, even if it didn’t seem possible at the time. I regret having to carry the things she said and did around with me for so long. It’s important to trust your instincts and be bold enough to take yourself away from situations and people that no longer benefit you. Life is too short to waste your precious time.
Natalie, 44, London
Like lots of young ladies, my dream was a knight in shining armour swooping into my life, saving the day, and marrying me. I met a men and fell for him quickly. When I look back, I recognise I was so blinded by the desire to be loved that I allowed myself to accept a dishonest, emotionally-unavailable person.
I invented excuse after excuse to justify why he treated me like crap. I should have walked away sooner, but after 4.5 years, one STD, and countless lies and betrayal, I left. I cried for six months, put myself into counselling, and took a long hard look at how I allowed myself to endure such a horrible experience.
Being a nice person is not a bad thing, but I’ve learned that self-love is key to having healthy boundaries. I used this negative element of my life journey to empower myself, and even started my own body care business. My advice is to discover what makes you happy, what gives you peace in this world of madness, and don't be ashamed of who you are. Just be you – smile, laugh, and be happy in your own skin.
Anita, 58, Essex
After years of suffering gynecological issues but being told by the GP there was nothing wrong, I was finally diagnosed with a huge fibroid and told a hysterectomy was the only option - meaning I could not have more kids. Both the diagnosis and subsequent op came shortly after I had broken up my 20-year marriage for an old flame who had promptly then left. Losing my children (who stayed with my husband), as well as my womb, left a physical ache and void in me I could not fill.
So, I focused on re-inventing myself. A personal trainer got me back to fitness post-op. I bought myself a new place to live. I changed my job. I travelled. I dated. But still it amazed me how often being womb-less came up in the world of dating, even though I was 47 and my dating profiles said I did not want more children.
I have come to terms with my loss, but remain unhappy my fibroids went undiagnosed for years, despite continually going to the GP about my symptoms. I regret not being more assertive with my doctor when I knew something was wrong. When it comes to female health matters, you know your own body – so do not be fobbed off and left to live with it.
Valerie, 56, London
In 2014, my health began to deteriorate. I put off going to the GP, but the pain became so bad I had no choice but to go. I was diagnosed with severe spinal cord compression, due to a tumour on my cervical spine.
I was booked in for an operation two weeks after seeing the neurologist and told that it was high risk surgery that might not be successful. After the eight-hour operation, I woke up and was relieved to be told the operation went well. Post-op, I had to do a lot of physios and was on sick leave for months, having to learn how to walk again.
The whole event was a wake-up call to start taking better care of myself. I knew it was time to stop drinking and smoking – and to start eating a more balanced diet. It made me realise how precious life is, and I should never take things for granted. I deeply regret not having seen the GP immediately after the symptoms started to show. There would have been less neurological damage. I am determined not to dwell on it. Instead, I have learnt I should work less and spending more quality time with my loved ones, enjoying life’s little pleasures.
Sukyana, 40, London
I have two past regrets that often play on my mind. The first was in 2015, when my grandfather was dying. He would constantly ask me to stay over, and although I often did, sometimes I said no. Now, I feel regret and feel like I should have stayed with him the whole time.
My second regret is not learning a new skills or undertaking a course in lockdown, making use of the spare time I had. I wish I had done something to better my career in fashion, and to not be afraid. As cliché as it sounds, don’t be afraid to live life as if it were your last day. Grasp opportunities with both hands, and don’t be afraid of taking a step into the unknown.
Selina, 41, London
I married soon after completing my degree and went on to have my first child straight away. I had always been ambitious with big career aspirations but found myself a housewife with a small child to look after at a young age.
My husband changed a lot after marriage – taking on the traditional views of his family that a woman should behave and dress in a certain way. I became depressed and started suffering from eating disorders, which spiraled out of control. I had another child with the same man. But soon decided to get out.
I am in a better place now. I am doing well in my career, and my boys are doing well too. I use my time now to focus on how I can keep improving myself, rather than dwelling on the past. My main regret is that I hid my struggles from the world and made it seem like I was happy when, internally, I was a wreck.
I was mentally unwell and should have sought help.
I now encourage my boys to speak out and to talk about their feelings, as I wish I had done with friends and family when I felt low. I value being open about my issues and no longer isolating myself from the world.
Amy, 40, Oxfordshire
I’ve always been highly academic, but I settled for a mundane job after leaving school, a job that didn’t allow me to realise my potential. For some reason, I rebelled against pursuing a more academic path and wanted a ‘normal’ job. I worked as a driving instructor, in a corporate role for the NHS, and even went to university aged 33 for Law/Business, but I was never satisfied or happy with my choices.
I had bumbled along from mistake to mistake, and I couldn’t understand what my problem was. So, finally I did something wild. I quit my job, sold my house, and bought a motorhome. During the pandemic, I travelled around the UK with my partner, seeking out a new life.
Although I’m yet to find this new life, I have learned I need to focus on my own happiness and goals, and forget about external pressures, such as what my family expect, or comparing myself to friends, chasing money and status. Focus on your mental well-being and pursue something that feels right for yourself, something that brings you peace and happiness.
Rebecca, 47, Bristol
Growing up, my parents made it clear they would disown me if I did not do what they wanted with my life. I was told I could forget my dream of working in the art world and instead find an administrative office job, get married young, and have children. At 15 I got my first job and, soon after, was married with kids.
I absolutely adore my children but always felt there was so much more of the world to see, and so much opportunity to have had a job I would have enjoyed.
All I heard from my parents was ‘no you can't do this’, ‘no you can't do that’. I vowed to be different – I want my children to enjoy life and have jobs that make them happy.
I regret not standing up for myself to my parents and believing I could not do what I wanted. But there is one thing I know: I gave my children the best lives to live and to be happy. I am so proud of both - they are at university, studying what they love, and know there will never be any boundaries from me when it comes to achieving their dreams.
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