The Day I Left Without Paying

Almost 6 years ago, I was in a restaurant in the TriBeCa section of Manhattan.

I was at a low period of my life, attending law school because of family pressure and hating it. Feeling alone and miserable, I ate my lentil stew that day dreading my upcoming engagement party later that night. “Call it off!” a mentor of mine urged. But, I couldn’t. They had already hired the caterer. Everyone was counting on me.

I must have been pretty preoccupied because I accidentally left without paying for my half-eaten soup!

It was not until hours later that I realized my mistake, but by then I was too embarrassed to return and never really made it over to that part of town.

Yesterday, almost 6 years later, I returned to this reasonably priced kosher falafel and shawarma establishment and paid for the lentil stew, finally ridding myself of feeling any guilt for not paying on that confusing Autumn day back in 2011. Then, I sat down and had lunch (which I paid for) in between meetings.

It’s pretty amazing to reflect on how far I’ve come. Within a month after that day I left without paying, I broke off the engagement and I dropped out of law school. Today, I’m working hard doing something I love and actually enjoy.

Life has a funny way of turning out well when we stop worrying so much about what other people think or want from us and start being true to ourselves, taking responsibility for our own choices, and following our own path instead of the ones others would like to see us take.

We have only one life and regret is a painful thing, which can breed resentment. When we live in fear of what others think, it leads to poor decision making like marrying someone not right for us, working too long at a job we hate, or forgetting to pay our tab at the restaurant.

I’ve learned that it’s far better to pursue your dreams and do what you feel will make you happy, even if you fail than to regret never having tried because you didn’t want to let anyone else down.