I don’t know why, but lately, I’ve been reminiscing on things I really hated doing in the past. Necessary things, maybe even good things. But still, things I did not enjoy. You’d think that reflecting on things I didn’t like doing would put me in a funk — push me back into darker times when life wasn’t as easeful as it is now. Interestingly, I’ve found the opposite. Remembering how bad the suck sucked helps me appreciate how good the not-suck feels.
So, here is a non-exhaustive list, in no particular order, of the things I am so glad I never have to do again.
I envy the moms who loved their breastfeeding journey. Even now that my kids are 5 and 7, I still watch pumping videos on TikTok and marvel at what it’s like for women who don’t have supply issues. I still cry with moms posting videos about their breastfeeding journey coming to an end. I desperately wanted a happy and positive breastfeeding experience with my kids, but that’s not what I got. Breastfeeding was difficult, frustrating, and demoralizing. I’m delighted that the pressure and the trauma of that whole experience is behind me.
#2. Going on dates.
When my husband and I separated and were considering divorce, I think the thing that scared me the most was having to get back on the dating scene. I began seriously questioning if I would even try to date again, or if I would just choose to live my life blissfully single. I’m so happy to be in a healthy, peaceful marriage now that my husband and I have reconciled. We are both healed, both in active therapy, both safe. I will gladly put in the work and effort to fix any obstacles that arise in our marriage, just so that I never have to try dating again.
#3. Completing a PhD.
I love school, and even loved all the challenges and growing pains I went through in my doctoral program. But writing my dissertation almost killed me. And the committee defense? That was easily one of the most stressful days of my life. All my hard work—over ten years of advanced education—boiled down to that moment. When I got the news that I passed, I couldn’t tell if I was going to collapse, pee my pants, or run in manic circles around the building. I have no regrets, and would do it all over again. But I’m so glad I never have to.
#4. Receiving rejections from literary agents.
Querying literary agents was such a stressful and discouraging time. I’d put my heart into writing a book I believed in and was ready to commit myself to a career as an author. I didn’t think I had the know-how or the resources to go the self-publishing route, so I decided I’d rather try traditional publishing instead. To accomplish that, I really had no choice but to put myself out there and try to get a literary agent. Getting rejections was hard. But man. Getting that contract with my top choice of literary agents? That made it all worth it. She’s amazing. We work really well together. And she already got me a book deal! So unless things go really sideways in the future, I don’t see myself ever having to go through another round of queries and rejections.
#5. Changing diapers.
Yep. I don’t think I have to say much here. This is easily something I’m thankful I never have to do again unless and until my kids decide to become parents. In that case, I’ll gladly do it again.
#6. Obsessing over being a certain weight or size.
I’m so done with that, and I’m never going back. I’m focused on a sustainable health journey that incorporates exercise I enjoy, rest days when I need them, a healthy diet, and the freedom to eat what I want (even to splurge!) without worrying over what the scale says. I want mobility, a flexible spine, a strong core, good cholesterol, healthy blood pressure, and a healthy immune system. These are all things that matter far more to me than weight.
#7. Buying a house for the first time.
Oof. I know I’ll probably have to buy another house at some point in my life, but I’ll never have to do it for the first time again. That was a learning curve I wasn’t ready for. I’m sure the next one will be just as confusing and complicated, but at least I’m not going in blind.
#8. Taking SATs, ACTs, and GREs.
Standardized testing was the bane of my existence as a student. I’m smart, but I’m also incredibly anxious. Timed, high stakes tests never panned out very well for me. I did okay—well enough to get into the schools I wanted. But I can’t say the tests gave an accurate reflection of what I know, and they caused me way more stress than I deserved.
#9. Using a tampon for the first time.
I didn’t get my first period until I was 17, and it happened at school. By then, all my friends had been using tampons for quite some time. No one thought about explaining to me what I was supposed to do with it. My friend passed me a tampon under the stall door, and I stared at it in complete befuddlement. I ended up putting the entire thing in there. Cardboard applicator and all. It was a very uncomfortable bus ride home.
#10. Getting up multiple times a night with crying babies.
I don’t know if I’ll ever go through something as emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting as having a baby and a very young toddler at home. Neither of my babies were good sleepers. There were nights I was up 8–10 times per kid, and they never bothered to synchronize their wake-up schedules. That meant some nights I was up 16–20 times. I am so glad I never have to go back to that time of my life. Sometimes, I don’t know how I survived it.
All in all, I’m proud of myself for making it through all these uncomfortable experiences. I didn’t enjoy any of them, but I did my best. I’m grateful to be in a new stage of life that, admittedly, comes with its own hurdles and speed bumps. But at least I’ll never encounter these speed bumps again.
Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.