A Forever “What if?”

I’m guilty of it and perhaps you are, too, whomever you might be, reading this post of mine. Lying in bed, you glance at the clock and realize it is minutes before you must get out of bed, attempt to make yourself presentable and progress through another day. Though prior to rising of your bed, you grab your cell phone lying on the nightstand adjacent to your bed, eager to peruse the latest happenings on Twitter, Facebook, or your other social media platform of choice. For me, this morning, as with most other mornings, my choice was Twitter. Scanning through many seemingly meaningless tweets, I arrived at one by one of my favorite fiction authors, Jane Green. In her tweet, she provided a link to a website, simply tweeting, “So thrilled to be hosting the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge this year! And I cannot believe the amazing… (then she inserts a hyperlink to her Facebook page, where she details the aforementioned “challenge.”) Needless to say, I was intrigued and contemplative.

About an hour or so after reading Jane’s tweet, I logged onto my Facebook via my laptop and began to familiarize myself with the challenge she mentioned. If you’re curious about it like me, here is the link to the official post and explanation about it: http://gobooksparks.com/SRC2015/

The overall premise of the challenge is to read a new book each week. Bloggers can sign up to participate and review a book per week, as they complete them. Non-bloggers who are book lovers, can still join in the fun and read a book per week and tag the books and the challenge in their social media posts to win prizes throughout the summer. If you’re eager to participate, the sponsors of the challenge encourage readers to RSVP on the event’s Facebook page. Each book is a new “destination” (i.e. set in various locations, such as Los Angeles, Montana, etc).

Scanning through the list of selected novels, some, but not all are appealing to me after reading through the descriptions and also heading over to trusty Google to learn more about each book. For those I am interested in reading, rather than purchase each book, I logged into my account on my local library’s website and requested them. Some of the books are new and yet to arrive on book shelves, so it is necessary to wait for their arrival. One book in particular, truly captured my eye and mind, becoming the muse behind this very post.

The book I speak of is entitled, “Maybe in Another Life,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. After reading the brief description on the challenge website, I felt as though I more or less was reading my life in a snapshot:

“At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?”

Rapidly approaching my 27th birthday, I can relate to Hannah’s sentiments, unsure about what to do with my life. Like her, I’ve had several different jobs since graduating from college nearly five years ago. I’m not at all where I thought or hoped I would be, way back when I was a teenager. I would think of my twenties and believe it would follow the pre-determined pattern I set for myself – graduate college at age 22, fall in love, have an excellent career, attend graduate school then graduate, get married, have children and carry out a domestic life while being a career woman. To me, there was no “in-between,” or room for life to happen. I operated under the immature assumption that life will transpire in the way I want it to, simply because I said it would.

Now as I am edging further into my late 20’s, I realize that the choices and decisions I made often haunt me, each and every day. I realize that we don’t always have control over the things and events that happen to us and in all honesty, it took me years to come to terms with this truth and realization. Sometimes, it’s still hard to accept it. Now more than ever though, I realize that while I may not have control over everything that happens to me, what I do have control over is how I respond to it. I can choose and control the way I respond to each hardship and obstacle thrown my way. I’ll never know what might have happened if I made a different choice years ago. I don’t know if had I made a different choice 10 years ago if I would be married, or a mother today. I don’t know if I would have had the fulfilling career I always dreamed if I had chosen a different path for myself.

It’s hard to believe that nearly ten years ago, I was about to turn 17-years-old. It was a poignant time in my life, because a lot of the choices or decisions I made way back then, as a teenager still impact and affect me today. Those choices and situations shaped the last decade of my life. When I look back, I wonder what might have happened if I had used my words instead of actions to communicate my internal sentiments. More so now than ever though, I try to practice more self-acceptance, realizing how important it is to accept the choices I made, realizing that it was what I felt was best at that moment. I was young then and yes, while I still am young, back then I operated in the mindset that the choices I was making then would have little or no influence on my future. If I had known what I know now, I can’t be confident in saying I would have made the same choices. Sometimes I wish I could go back and be a friend to my teenage self. The things I felt were of the utmost importance then seem so trivial now, but that is apart of life. It is apart of what it means to be young, taking risks and chances that might leave our future selves scratching our heads and contemplating about what we were thinking back then when we made those choices.

It’s important to note that the choices I made in the past are reminders to me of what not to do today, or at least provides me with a snapshot of what will happen if I make those choices again. The pain of yesterday’s decisions sometimes radiates through me today, especially when I see or encounter people of my past. I can still think about the events and situations of yesterday, but this I know now: I can choose to not be reduced or defeated by them; I can look towards the present today and tomorrow, realizing that while I might not have made the best choices in the past, I can still make better choices for tomorrow and beyond.

It’s funny how reading a brief description of a novel can trigger an entire outpouring of memories and sentiments and a question for a myself: What if I decided to let life happen as it does and adjust accordingly? That, my friends, I CAN choose – in fact, we all can.

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