Missed opportunities & saying “Yes”

18th October 2016

Missed opportunities & saying

A couple of years ago I passed on an incredible opportunity due to health reasons.

It was so hard for me to say no to, and equally as hard to have to justify my decision to others when they asked me why I’d turned it down.

That opportunity was a trip to Crete and Santorini in Greece as part of my degree.

And I said no because at that time I had been struggling so much with my hip dysplasia that some days I was unable to leave the house.

About 6 months before this trip I had been to Spain as a part of my degree and I couldn’t cope with the amount of walking we had to do. We were there for a week, and on one of the days I had to stay in the hotel and rest because I was so worn out and in so much pain.

I decided that it would be unfair on myself and others for me to go on that trip to Greece knowing how I had struggled in Spain, and how my friends and lecturers had to deal with me at my worst, but it’s a decision that I still think about to this day.

I love to travel and I have a soft spot for Greece after visiting Rhodes when I was 12, so turning that opportunity down was so damn hard.

I felt like I was missing out on an incredible adventure all because of my stupid hip condition. I was missing out on seeing the beautiful island of Santorini, spending quality time with my friends, and gaining valuable experience that may have benefited me in the life.

(We all know the latter really didn’t matter in the end as I now build websites for a living, but hey ho.)

I remember the week of the trip well. My friends all flew off to Greece while I sat at home trying to make the best out of a bad situation. I decided to get a head start on some coursework, but in the end I caught a cold and I felt rubbish for the whole week. Needless to say I made no progress on that coursework.

I think that made it worse really; being ill and then looking on Facebook at all the beautiful photographs my friends were posting from Greece. In the end I just avoided social media until they got back.

I still look back at this, and I feel regret. I wish I had gone. I wish I had spoken to my lecturers to see if they could have found a way for me to go but that wouldn’t have involved as much walking. I wish I had tried steroid injections when the doctors initially suggested them, because I know now that they would have made that trip possible.

It’s all good and well wishing we’d done things differently at the time. But time machines don’t yet exist, so we can’t go back and change the past.

We can only learn from our mistakes, from our missed opportunities. 

And boy, did I learn a lot.

Shortly afterwards I spoke to my doctor about steroid injections, and of course, they worked a treat. Steroids have completely changed my life. They have allowed to me to live my life to the full and to go to places I wouldn’t have imagined going to 2 years ago because of my mobility problems.

I have changed my approach to opportunities and now I say “Yes” a whole lot more.

I mean, I could have easily passed on that job advert for a web developer position that I spotted online last summer. I could have talked my way out of it, giving myself a million and one reasons why it was a bad idea to even try because I’d never get the job anyway.

I think you all know how that one turned out…

That’s the power of saying yes.

I learned the hard way that turning down opportunities can lead to regret. Of course, there maybe times when you were wrong to go for it, and you wish you hadn’t said yes. But I guess you never know until you try.

I wrote this post not just to share my thoughts and to reflect upon them; I also wrote this as a reminder to myself.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. Who knows what incredible experiences could arise from it. 

Have you ever passed on an opportunity that you later regretted?

P.S. The print in the photo is from That Lame Company.

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  1. I pass over a lot of my regrets even though they may have been as big as yours. Your regret was a missed opportunity but I found that a lot of my regrets were more to do with personal reasons for not saying ‘no’, actually. One thing I did regret and still think about is the opportunity to go to an out-of-town festival for free a few years ago. I was SO keen for it, I would have missed out on a university class (on a freaking Saturday) and had to fake a doctor’s certificate because I missed so much class already, but even though my friend (the same friend who invited me up and could get me in for free) offered to write a doctor’s certificate because he was a professional physiologist, I said no. Bah, and I regret it! Because I sat in that class instead, super annoyed and bored, and really just wanted to go.

    I’m sorry that you regret not saying yes to that trip. It was a missed opportunity indeed, but you got to travel recently for a job you didn’t even think you’d get, and you got a promotion (I read that post too ;))… so! I’m really happy for you. Things have really turned around and there is a lot of positivity that I think has encouraged you not to miss another opportunity again. And that’s fantastic :)

    • Holly

      It’s a pain when life gets in the way. Shortly after I started my job last year I was offered a free city break in return for a feature on my blog but I had to turn it down because I was still in the probation period of my job and I couldn’t take any leave. I know there was nothing I could have done about it but I still think about it and I’m still disappointed I couldn’t go.

      Thank you! I’m so glad I applied for this job because it’s been one hell of a year!

  2. I missed an opportunity a few years ago. We just found our flat and I got an amazing job offer. I declined the offer because it meant we weren’t able to buy the flat after a job-change and we would have had to wait for a few months, at least, until we could apply for a loan. On the other side, because we bought the flat, I had to change my job after a few months (it was impossible to get to work after they change the office to another location). After 1-2 months I was hired in another place that I loved and I worked there for a long time. So, maybe something bad is not necessarily bad in the long term.

  3. Joy

    I love the inspiring words in this post.
    I myself feel like I need to say yes to more opportunities. I haven’t had too many chances to say “yes” but there are a few chances I feel like I gave up on too soon. But, your post was really up-lifting. Thank you for that!

  4. Cat

    Sorry to hear that you still feel regret on the Greece decision :( There’s definitely so many things I wish I had done differently in the past, and many life-changing decisions that I wish I made earlier in my life. Like you said, I think the important thing is to learn from the missed opportunities and grab them in other ways. It’s better late than never!

    Last year, I really tried to instill the “you never know until you try” thinking on my team at work. I wanted to make changes to how we work and develop our products, and of course, change is hard and uncomfortable. I told them that if something doesn’t work, we’ll simply stop doing it, but hey, you never know until you try it out, right? Things have definitely changed for the better now :)

    I love your new outlook on opportunities! I’m glad that things have worked out for you!

    • Holly

      Stepping out of our comfort zone is good. Like you say, you never know until you try.

      I’m glad things worked out for you at work. Getting other people involved in change can be so difficult.

  5. I’ve said no quite a lot on a few things but i know better than to look back and think “why did i reject the offer” because i know that once i start allowing myself to do that, i’m letting myself venture into that zone where i’d hate myself for days, blame and scold myself for weeks and sink into depression, again. So i try to “suck it up” and tell myself that whatever i do, TRY not to look back too much because time machines do not exist. I have rejected offers from going out with friends to working as a web developer for a news company. I personally did not regret the latter because i know that news company is not where i want to work and i am not aiming to be a web developer (i’m aiming to be an interface designer which is something uncommon in my country). Surprisingly, rejecting offers from friends is the one that sometimes make me sick into silence. I was never an extrovert and i have social anxiety so i reject most invitations and only find it comfortable to go out with my boyfriend and my best girl friend. Other than that, i’m not comfortable. But at the same time while protecting myself from feeling left behind and anxious (because that’s how it group hangout affects me), i have this hidden sadness whenever i check social media so like you, i try to avoid them too for a couple of days. I know it’s my fault though because i could have joined the others but i didn’t and it’s an endless cycle for me since i’d protect myself from what i know is going to happen if i join but at the same time i have to tell myself that ‘hey, it’s your own fault for not joining.’ i hope that makes sense.

    I know that in the end that we all have to take chances but it’s the fear that makes us be extremely cautious. For now, i don’t know how to get pass that fear (at least for certain things) and i hope someday i’d have a braver self.

  6. Glad to hear that the steroid injections helped you out big time! I think back at a number of times I’ve said no and missed out on opportunities. However, there were other times where I regret saying no. It works both ways for me XD. Even though you missed out on the opportunity of traveling through Greece, I hope you’ll have another opportunity to go some other time. It doesn’t hurt to try things out when you can :).

  7. I know it’s corny, but I tend to be in the “no regrets” school of thought. I try to see the positives to potentially regretful situations so that I won’t stress about them forever. You will one day make it to Greece! And I’m sure it’ll be awesome!

  8. Aww just found your little blog and I love it :) I feel so related, I used to say so many times no, and I still struggle with it but I’m getting better!!
    Sending some love xx

    https://aspoonfulofnature.wordpress.com/