When raising me, my dad always said something along the lines of, “When raising a child, you should spoil girls and starve boys.”

Since I was a boy, I fell under this “starve” category. Of course, I wasn’t actually starved — in fact, I often ate too much, which resulted in me being overweight for the majority of my childhood. The logic of what my dad meant was that if I was given what I wanted as a child, then I wouldn’t have the discipline to work for anything when I was older. I don’t entirely understand why he only applied this logic to boys, however.

As a child, I wasn’t really given what I wanted it. I wasn’t allowed to play video games, despite owning a video game console. My parents bought me a Wii in 6th grade, but I was never actually allowed to play it. So it sat in my living room all day, taunting me. I wasn’t allowed to spend time with friends outside of school, for the most part. There was a lot of miscommunication surrounding who I could hang out with when. I didn’t have much “free time” in the sense that whenever I had free time, my parents would fill it with more stuff to do. Things obviously changed as I got older, but the fundamental dynamics were the same.

In many ways, I suppose this strategy worked. I’m pretty confident in my discipline to do things nowadays. I have other problems, of course, but I don’t think I lack in this one aspect he wanted me to have, so that’s nice.

It also translated into a sense of frugalness. Even though my job effectively frees me from most financial considerations considering everyday living, there are some old habits that die hard. Most of the time I eat out with my friends, I feel quite guilty. I almost never order food when I could just cook something in the kitchen. If I use the metric of finding housing that equals a third of my salary, I would be able to find housing that is quite comfortable even in New York. Yet, there is something that prevents me from looking in Manhattan even though it would be infinitely more convenient. There’s a discomfort I have to indulgence, which I have slowly worked on over the years, but I can’t help but wonder how much of it is dependent on this philosophy I was raised with.

Regarding the experiences I have had over the past couple of years, I wonder how much of it has made me a stronger person. I have experienced a lot of social, academic, and professional reject, and I wonder if these experiences have made me stronger as a person. It is that or that these experiences have made me less strong, more unsure of myself. A little rejection builds resilience, but too much rejection causes the collapse of the foundation. Numerous times in my college experience, I have felt as if I was broken beyond repair. And so, what I feel right now, is that just a coming to terms or a return to normalcy?

Holding me back from the life that I want — so much of my life feels like it’s motivated by regret. In particular, there is so much regret that I feel that I never want to experience again in my life, which is why I live my life to never experience the same regrets that haunt me from my past ever again.

The question, however, is: does this regret make me into a stronger person? Most of the time, I just feel that it takes away from the joy that I experience in life. Yet, at the same time, I have made strides in self-improvement in an attempt to reclaim this regret that I feel. Is that redemption? Is there any way to redeem the regret I feel because of my past?