The Butterfly Effect-The What Ifs Of Life

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Alright y’all I have had this post sitting in my drafts for some time I have been scared waiting to drop it.  However after reading Helene’s post the other day about her thoughts on life’s occurrences, it really gave me the final push and confidence to go ahead and finally hit that publish button.  I have always turned to Helene when it comes to all things blogging and she has been the sweetest go to person for me!  I absolutely recommend her and did you know she is a blogger consultant now? She is always that next step ahead which is why you should totally check her out.

So this post is one of those where you have the idea in your head and you sit down and in a manic driven fury 20 minutes later you have an entire post of words and you don’t even remember writing them. You know I try to keep things pretty light and funny around these parts but I was driving home from work the other day and this question popped into my mind.  It happens once and a while and it all stems from that movie you might have seen it called the Butterfly Effect.  The movie is based upon the chaos theory which proposes how small initial differences might lead to significant unforeseen consequences over time.  Ashton Kutcher is in it…..he’s not that fantastic in my book but the whole concept of small life events that can have significant life altering effects has always stayed with me.

Loosely associated but on the same track as the fact I use to read those books growing up Choose Your Own Adventure.  You come to a fork in the road do you go left or right?  Opps left……sorry you didn’t make it.  Then you would have to go back and choose right. Honestly between these books and R. L Stine what did we read growing up right?

With all this said I am not a person at all to live in the past.  I am confident in all my decisions.  I am not one to live the glory days of High School.  I mean I may reminisce about the good ole days of college where sleeping till noon was acceptable as well as eating Moo Moo Mr. Cows from Moe’s were a staple of my diet.  I love looking forward and believe with each passing year I am getting wiser and more confident.  So this is in no way a reflection of the what ifs in a sorrowful way but more out of curiosity to ask if I had made that other decision where would I be now?

There have been probably a handful of instances in my life that I can honestly remember very clearly that if I had many the choice or decision or if the circumstance presented a different way, I feel like my current life situation would be drastically different.  I’m not going to get into religion but I do honestly believe in the cliche expression everything happens for a reason.  I do believe that there is a higher being watching out for me to help guide the path that has brought me to where I am today. Now don’t come at me with the dropping the cliche line there I do think we make conscious everyday decisions but there are those fate/stars aligned kind of things that do make you wonder if there is more to it all.  Anyways, here are a few situations that I often think about some seem quite trivial when you write them but they did have huge impacts on my present day life.

I grew up right outside of Boston and the majority of kids I graduated High School with were going to stay local and attend colleges close by.  The majority were going to Boston University, Boston College or NorthEastern all of which I had gotten into. Instead of staying in my comfort zone and going off to school with them I decided to move down south 1500 miles away and attend the University of Florida.  I didn’t know a single soul there.  I packed my car and never looked back.  I did go back up north for Grad school but when a job presented back in Florida I leapt at the chance.  Now I am solidly grounded in this state and have no plans of moving back north. But what if I had stayed up there for college?  Would I be living in the city still with my High School friends like I see on Facebook?  Or would I have moved to New York and live in a 500 sf ft apartment with them? Where would I be right now if I had stayed in Boston for college?

Moving along.  This sounds so cheesy but it had a big effect.  I came to Florida early to rush.  Now in Massachusetts the Greek life was non-existent but when I came down for preview the Greek life was everywhere.  So I was there that week before to rush.  I met my roommate the day of rush and she was amazing.  We were instant best friends.  She wasn’t rushing and kinda down played the whole greek life.  I didn’t know anything different so I didn’t rush.  I look back and think what if I had rushed that year? I was able to really study hard and get straight A’s my freshman year which opened the door to so many academic opportunities and landed me a highly coveted research job.  If I had rushed I probably would have lived in the house and wouldn’t have focused on my academics as much.  I also would have had a completely different group of friends and who knows where my life would have taken me with that?  I ended up rushing my Sophomore year which was a completely different experience because I was a year wiser and already knew what house I wanted to be in.  But what if I had rushed my freshman year?  Would my grades had been as good as they were to get accepted into UPenn for Grad school?  What a question.

This one is even more random.  I was dating a boy I met the first night out at one of the Fraternity “late night parties”.  We were dating my entire first semester there as a freshman.  Well then wouldn’t you know I did something that was typical of an immature 18 year old and he promptly never talked to me again.  He ended up dating someone else pretty soon there after and they are married with two kids.  But what if I hadn’t done that immature thing?  Would I have stayed in Florida and never gone to Penn because I didn’t want to leave that relationship?  Or maybe it would have ended shortly there after and it wouldn’t even have mattered.

Along the same line as making decisions that involve men (why??? do they get so much focus right?)  When I was at Penn I met a really great guy around the same time I took the amazing job opportunity in Florida.  I knew I couldn’t pass up the job so I left but I was really torn.  In the end I absolutely love my job and have been working at the same practice ever since I left Grad school.  If I stayed there I probably wouldn’t have met Mark who I’m going to marry in a little over 5 months!!

The other night I was driving back from Barre in the dark and it was raining.  I was looking forward at a green light and out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone on a bike trying to race in front of my car in the middle of the road.  I was able to slam on my brakes and avoid him but if I hadn’t had that glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye I would have hit the person on the bike who was illegally crossing.  Luckily I was able to see them and avoid a potentially very scary situation.  I knew at that exact moment someone had been watching out for me.  But what if there had been that second delay and I hadn’t had the opportunity to swerve?  What if something on my phone beeped and I looked down for a second?

There are times that I take to reflect on moments like these and think about the butterfly effect.  The slightest change in your life could have dramatically different outcomes.  What are your thoughts on this?  Do you think we have a pre-determined destiny that we are going to arrive at no matter what?  Do you have any what ifs thoughts in your life?  I can honestly say that I am completely blessed and at this moment in my life the happiest I have ever been.  All of those life occurrences has lead me down a path that brings me to my current situation where I have met the love of my life, have a strong and loving family.  As well as a job that I love that challenges me every day.

I know this was a deep one but had to get this out of my head and onto this creative outlet space of mine.  Let me know what you think!

*Disclaimer*  Everyone has their own beliefs and values please respect everyones comments xoxoxoxo

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42 responses to “The Butterfly Effect-The What Ifs Of Life”

  1. YES. Amazing post (I love reading things like this from you!) I truly think everything happens for a reason. <3

  2. I love these kinds of posts because it reminds me that I’m not alone in some of the ways I think. I feel like you’ve had a lot more of those forks in the road than I have but I often think about the same 1 or 2 forks and wonder if I made the right choice. Ultimately I can rationalize in my head that I did, but sometimes my heart doesn’t follow and then I wonder. I do believe we have some sort of predestined path with all of the forks mapped out. I’m so happy to hear that all your forks led you to the happiest you’ve ever been, it means it was all worth it and you are exactly where you are meant to be.

  3. Kiki says:

    So glad you posted about this! The butterfly effect is for real!

  4. It’s hard because I try not to think about things like this because I can over analyze every situation to determine where the turning point could have been or what I could have changed. Though I do look back and see moments that were very pivotal to taking a certain path that led me to this one.

  5. I definitely always think about the choices I made that lead me to where I am and all I can say is that, for me personally, there must be a guardian angel that guides me along the right path! At least that’s what I hope to be true… It’s crazy to think that split decisions can change the course of our lives!! Great post girl and that’s the movie we watched the night before Gary and I moved in together because cable was off LOL

  6. Kristen says:

    I definitely enjoyed reading this post, you should do more ‘deep’ posts, lol.
    I am from a different country, with a different culture, and I hope you don’t judge but I am not religious, and while I do not believe that we have a pre-destined fate or anything like that, or that bad things happen to me on purpose, or that someone is looking out for me when I dodge that car that almost killed me and my best friends – I believe that was luck or chance. However, I do believe that when things do happen, we can either grow or shrink. I have had several things in my life like this happen, and if I had just made one different choice, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Sure sometimes I think about them (might do a post, if thats ok with you?) but I love my life and accept that everything happened and I am glad it did. Does that make sense? I believe it happens for – not a ‘reason’ exactly, but I can’t think of another word, so yes. Everything happens for a reason – you just need to find the reason.
    Ps that movie scared the shit out of me.

  7. Ashley says:

    Such a good post Amanda! I always think about things like this and love that you wrote about it. So many moments looking back where one simple choice took my like in a very different direction. If I didn’t move to Charleston after college would I ever have run into Brian? Would I still be in the city now if I hadn’t? So crazy to think about…

  8. I love love love that movie and yes I dwell on the what ifs way too much! It’s similar to the sliding doors movie.

  9. Such a great post from you, lady! I think it’s healthy to reflect like this sometimes – we all should/need to do it! I’m also a strong believer in “everything happens for a reason.” I’ve really struggled this past year, with the exception of marrying my best friend, so I finally had to put my trust in something greater to know and accept that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.

  10. Dang girl! Look at you getting all deep on a Thursday! :) I definitely have thought about the many “what ifs” in life but I think that everything we do and the decisions we make happen for a reason. It’s our choice to either grow and learn from those situations or to continue to make the same decisions. Like you said, it’s a choose your adventure book. It’s definitely crazy to think about the “what ifs” but the older I get the less I like to think about the “what ifs” of the past and instead I like to focus on the “what ifs” of the future!

    <3, Pamela

  11. P!nky says:

    I believe in both, predetermined instances and human choice instances. I can look back at my life and determine specific places and points when my life changed. If I hadn’t have joined a random kickball team I would NEVER have met my husband. Just crazy.

  12. this is wonderful. strangely similar, our choices in some instances. i moved down here the year before graduation for an internship. had never been to florida and knew no one. then graduated and had to move back. i have been here for 10 years now! but i moved here knowing no one and regret nothing. what an experience. and who knows, i may be doing it all over again soon…oh the crazy things that happen to us and shape our lives. maybe huge or maybe small. xoxo

  13. This post IS amazing.

    The twists and turns of our journey through life… Is it the right path? is it the wrong path? Is this the only path?
    I try no longer to dwell on the what ifs – The only thing I know now – is every turn, every bump, every moment from my past has fueled me to this point.

  14. I really enjoyed this post. I tend to over analyze everything so I sometimes do think about decisions and how they affect the path of life.

  15. Joey says:

    I absolutely believe in the “everything happens for a reason” thing. I think it’s a combination of 1) the kind of person we are 2) the amount of hard work we put in and 3) our faith. Similar to your bike story, I was driving out to watch the BIP finale with one of the wives out in Fuquay (25 mins away). It wasn’t pouring, but it had been raining all day and these back country roads here are very flat, so they just collect water. I was safely going 10 under the speed limit but the guy in front of me was going at least the speed limit if not faster. He hydroplaned into the next lane, over corrected swerving back into my lane, lost control ran off the road and hit a tree. Luckily I was going slow enough to begin with (and there was enough room between us) that I was able to slow down and avoid getting hit without having to slam on the breaks which would have made ME hydroplane! Needless to say, I turned around–checked on them (they were okay) and went home. I watched BIP in the comfort of my own home hah! But I just KNOW if I hadn’t been hearing my dad’s voice in my head to take it easy as I was driving out there–I would have been riding a lot closer to him and would have been in a serious accident!!

  16. that movie blew my mind the first time i watched it. it’s like every little thing results because of something else. i’m totally with you but i’m also a believer in everything happens for a reason. that’s what i tell myself anyway :)

  17. Oh yes! I think about this often. Reflecting on decisions made, places moved, people met, etc. How if 1 tiny thing hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t know the people I do or be married to Dustin. It’s crazy to think about. Even all the bad things we go through, I’m thankful for them because of where they lead you to!

  18. I’m right there with you and believe in the “everything happens for a reason”… I’ve seen it seriously play out in my life before and it’s kind of cool to look back and think (for instance) if I wouldn’t have gotten waitlisted at my dream school, then I would never have ended up where I did and would have never met Nick. Loved this post!

  19. i often think about this too. i dont live in my past but sometimes i wonder where i would have been if i went to University of Tampa vs staying home and going to a local college. If I did that, I wouldnt have met my ridiculous boyfriend who was the most awful human being i’ve ever met /dated for 3 years (who obviously i’m no longer with). i think about friendships from the past and where they would be today if i hadn’t done X or Y. this is so true!!!

  20. I always think of things like this. While I think wherever we are is where we’re supposed to be at that moment because where we are is the sum of every big and small choice we made, I think it’s interesting to think about the alternative.

  21. Such a wonderful post! I have no regrets in life. Of course there are decisions that I would have liked to have been wiser on, but that’s how life works. In the end, I do believe that we will all walk into our destinies no matter which path we take.

  22. Rebecca Jo says:

    I actually think about it constantly & end up getting depressed because I always think things would be better… not thinking that things could actually be worse.

  23. Okay first – I actually met RL Stine at Book Con and he was amazing. Second – I totally think everything happens for a reason.

  24. KatiePerk says:

    Isn’t it bizarre? I have to stop thinking about these things because they keep me up at night.

  25. I’m guessing this is post that you had in your drafts that you mentioned on my blog post about a similar subject. I don’t think things happen for a reason, simply because I don’t think life is that simple. We make choices and outcomes can change and we have to learn from that. Plus, the bad things that happened did not happen for a reason.

  26. I think about this ALL OF THE TIME! I am just happy that I seemed to have made all of the “right” choices and that helps me with it…

  27. Julia says:

    I think about this too! It’s funny because I have a similar experience with college- I was one of the only people from my graduating class to go out of state for my freshman year of college- Meanwhile I could have gone to any number of Florida colleges for pretty much free tuition because of the Bright Futures scholarship, but I really felt like I was supposed to go to this particular school in Oklahoma (of all places!). And that’s where I ended up meeting my husband! And some awesome girls that I am still friends with to this day!

    There have been so many little and big things in my life like that, as it is with everyone. I believe in God, and while I don’t believe He has an exact road mapped out for me that I am forced to take (because I believe in free will and He lets us make our own choices), I do believe that He has a plan and He will lead me down the path that is best for me if I am willing to follow Him and listen for His leading.

  28. I love that you wrote this. I seriously think about what ifs all of the time. I am totally with you on everything happening for a reason and I truly believe that there is always someone looking out for us (and thank goodness for that)!

  29. I always find it interesting to look back at those obvious forks in the road of our lives and see which path we chose and wonder if we had turned a different way would we still be where we are or would it have played out differently. I don’t really wish I could still live the good ol’ days, but it is fun to think about!

  30. I’ve made several huge life changing decisions and often look back and think “what if.” I think it would be hard not to wonder. But ultimately, I’m glad I am where I am today- even if I wish the road was a little less bumpy to get here!

  31. Tami says:

    This is deep! I try not to even think about these “what ifs” because it’s so crazy how differently things could have gone (and in some cases how badly they could have turned out)

  32. Meghan says:

    This is WONDERFUL. I think about this all the time. Not in a bad way, but I can honestly say I did a lot wen I was single so I wouldn’t have those “what ifs” when I was older and married. I was proposed to when I was 21 and I didn’t say yes. That’s something I think about and how different my life would have been. Also, that bike story… so true. When those things happen, it’s always a “wow… what if” moment. xo

  33. I love this post Amanda!! I always wonder the what if’s all the time. I am from Chicago and was supposed to go to college in IL, even had a dorm room with roomates lined up and then I decided in July to go to Arizona for college instead. It’s crazy to think about small and sudden decision can make such an impact on our lives!

  34. Great post! Love this idea, and love that you were brave and left your high school friends for a new adventure- that is definitely my big one too!

    PS SO glad you and the biker are both ok!

  35. Tracey says:

    This is so amazing. I had goosebumps reading it. I think the same way as you and I often marvel at how it is so amazing that the choices we make lead us towards amazing things (like meeting our husbands). So many things could have easily prevented Mark and from meeting and I often wonder who I would be with, where I would be living and if I would be as happy as I am now. Life is such a crazy adventure.

  36. Stacy G says:

    It is crazy to think about . but I have a tendency to think things work out as they are supposed to. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. XO

  37. Love this post! I rarely think in what if terms. The one what if that pops up in my mind now and then is what if I had gone back for a 2nd job interview at one company instead of taking a job offer that was given to me at another company. I sometimes think I would of been better off going back for the 2nd interview because I might of gotten the job. The other company didn’t work out so well and I left after 2 months. I probably could of been further along in my career if I’d gone back for that 2nd interview but I like to believe things happen a certain way for a reason.

  38. Teh Megan says:

    I think about these things all the time! I actually have a similar draft post, with a similar title even, but I’ve been unable to devote the time to going through all the events like you did. One day.

  39. Krystal R. says:

    Amazing! And I think about these things all the time! Great post hun!!

  40. Love your thought process on this post and it is always interesting to think “what if” about particular circumstances and crossroads that led us to today. How we have to be content with those decisions because your instinctual choice is most likely the right one. Love you so much & hope to see you very soon bella bride-to-be!! XO

  41. I absolutely love this post and I 110% agree with it. I think about those types of things ALL the time!!! About pretty much EVERYTHING! I tend to think it’s one of my weaknesses because I overthink about things I can’t change whether it’s for the better or worse. Lol. I also believe that there is a predetermined destination that we will all arrive at where we are meant to be!

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