Lately I’ve been thinking. There are so many things that we do every day out of habit, or because we’re ‘supposed to’ and don’t really put much thought into it. Things like brushing your teeth or curling your hair, wearing your favourite perfume or choosing to wear heels instead of flat shoes. These choices are quite simple in terms of the greater spectrum of choices we make throughout our lives. The bigger choices you may make could be things like choosing which University to attend, where you’ll live, who you’ll work for and who you’ll pursue relationships with. But with these more important choices, do you ever wonder what your life could have been like if you’d have decided differently? Can two words change your life?
“‘What’ and ‘if’ are about as harmless as two words can be. But, put them together and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life.” – Letters to Juliet
What if? One of the most provoking questions I’ve ever come across, and yet I still don’t have an answer. What if I’d have chosen a different University? Would I have still chosen to live abroad? Would I ever have met some of the best friends I’ve ever made if I hadn’t? It’s hard to say. Analyzing your life based on these small choices is, in truth, a daunting task. However, this is where I find my mind drifting when I have small moments for myself. I’ve played out (or at least tried) in my mind what it would have been like to have different interests, a different outlook on life, a different choice in schooling or field of study. When this happens, I think back to my senior year of high school, whereas a schedule conflict allowed me to make, at the time, a small yet easy decision that formed the path that I’ve decided to walk on for the foreseen future. This then leads me to believe that everything happens for a reason, whether you know the reason at the time or not.
What if? If my parents hadn’t instilled in me at a young age the importance of travel and of being a life-long learner, would I still be in the same place I am now? Wanting to live in a corner of the world very different from where I was born, constantly striving to learn new things about people and cultures? Maybe yes, maybe no. I’m not sure if my life would be as it is now without that lesson, one that I cherish so much to this day. In my eyes, travel and education go hand-in-hand. You can travel because of education, and you can educate yourself through travel.
This is partly why I’d attended a study abroad fair at my university; one in which I spoke to many people from many programs and still settled on applying for the England program on a whim, unsure of whether or not I’d be accepted. I was fortunate enough during this experience to be able to see the world through a different lens, and I began craving adventure and the ability to see more new places and trying even more new things. I even came up with a goal of filling my passport by age 25. Will that happen? Who knows.
I very well remember sitting down at the kitchen table in my parents’ house not long after returning to the States. I’d done a quick Google search of London Programs, and found one that I was ready to apply for. Let me preface this by saying that this may be one of the most impulsive yet rewarding things I’ve ever done. My mum had told me to sleep on my decision, which I did (for six hours) and promptly applied the next morning without a second thought.
What I didn’t know at the time was that this program had the means to make me the saddest and happiest I’ve been in a long time – both incredibly rewarding in full. I met one of the most incredible friends I’ve ever had, who constantly inspires me. I’d learned about myself and what I was willing to tolerate from people and what I was not. I gained an incredible sense of self-worth and determination, realizing that I didn’t want to settle for an average life that I was somewhat happy with. I met someone that made me feel so cherished and valued, and it brings a smile to my face just in writing this. I realized that maybe these massive choices that we’re expected to make, aren’t as daunting as they originally seemed.
Perhaps this was a long overdue self-reflection – but I’ll argue this. The simplest of questions gains the most vague and never-ending answer. What if? Two words, a plethora of meanings, a question that can never fully be answered and because of this, may be the most daunting question of all. What if? Who knows. If I ever find out, I’ll let you know. Until next, xoxo.
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