I know it is extremely dangerous to even begin to walk down this path. The science geek in me likes to think there are multiple universes out there and in each universe there is a slightly altered version of Patty, living out each scenario and each alternative. It can be maddening at times, to even go through this thought experiment, because truth is, you will never know what would have been if you had gone left instead of right, if you had said "no", instead of "yes", if you had calmed down just a second before making a rash decision that could have ultimately changed your entire life.
Truth be told, the grass is most often greener on the other side and it is much easier to fantasize and imagine than to live in reality. It can be dangerous, because you can really drive yourself crazy wondering what could have been and what may have been. To be honest, while I am totally happy and truly believe everything happens for a reason and I am meant to be (in this universe anyways) exactly where I am today and without the twists, turns, mistakes and lessons I would never be the person I am today. I am also a believer in trying to find the lesson in all that happens, the good and the bad. This is most often easier said than done, but I would drive myself even crazier if I didn't at least try to believe this.
While some of my what-ifs are quite personal and I do not plan on EVER going into them publicly, there are certainly those that would have equally altered where I am today that I have no problem putting out there....I guess, let's start at the beginning.
When I was born: I learned a few years ago, that I was actually due on August 25 and my sister was due on August 19th. We basically switched and got each other's due dates as our birthdays. I was born on August 20th and Katey was born on August 25th. I often wonder if I would have been any different of a person if I was born on August 25. I am currently on the cusp of Leo, with Virgo not being to far away. I think I am much more Virgo than Leo, but my Lion def. shines through on rare occasions. I often wonder if I would have been any different from the very beginning if I was born on the 25th vs. the 20th?
Jennifer Rose?: I learned awhile ago that my mom really wanted to name me Jennifer Rose, my dad didn't agree, however. There was apparently a lot of back and forth and Patricia ended up being the only name they could agree on. I often wonder how I would have been as a Jennifer, or a Jenn, for that matter. Whenever I meet someone named Jennifer, I always wonder, could I have been a Jenn, how would I have been as a Jenn. We all know I have a Pat, Patty, Patricia question, I guess it also would have worked for Jen, Jenny and Jennifer?
If the clock had hit me on the head: When I really little, apparently, my potty training seat was under a large clock that use to hang on the wall. Apparently when we lived in Linwood, I was sitting on my potty one day and the clock fell off the wall and somehow hit something that caused it not to hit me directly on the head. My parents often bring this up, so apparently, if it had hit me in the head, it may not have been a very good thing....
Moving to Granite street: When I was really small I had a huge imagination. I often wonder if my vivid imagination had anything to do with the amount I struggled with my fear. I often wonder if it was our house on Granite Street that triggered all of this. We moved to our house on Granite Street when I was a little over 3 yrs. old. I really do not remember anywhere but our house on Granite Street, and while I had no say in if we moved, I often wonder if we lived somewhere else, if I would have been less fearful. I am not sure if this is something I really had a choice with, but I often wonder if I had any control if there were ways I could have dialed this down a bit. Not gotten obsessed with choose your own adventure books, not thought a strange man lived in our backyard, not constantly searching for buried treasurers and secrete passages.
Quitting the flute in the 5th grade: I was petrified of my music teacher. I was doing pretty well playing the flute. I was really scared and ended up quitting. I often wonder if I had stuck with the flute if I would still be playing today, if I would have actually gotten pretty good at it and if I would have learned an important lesson about sticking with things even if you aren't good at it. I always wish I knew how to play a musical instrument
Speaking up, in general: Throughout my childhood, I was always afraid to speak up and let people know when I was hurt and having a difficult time. Some of my friends use to joke that they were afraid that one day I would get mad and totally blow up. I don't think it was a very good idea that others realized this too. I had a hard time through middle school and high school. I often wonder if i would have been happier if I wasn't so afraid of other people being mad at me, or being mean to me. I held a lot inside and I really don't think I would react the same today, as I am a different person.
Transferring to a new school: Not sure anyone knows this, but there were a few times I almost left Uxbridge and was honestly considering going elsewhere. I think once in 8th grade and then senior year. I was pretty close each time to just leaving, I often wonder what would have happened if I did.
Dance, dance, dance: I took dance classes, forever. When I got to high school it got to the point when I had to decide between student council and trying out for the more advanced dance class. I ended up decided to stick with student council, but I always wonder how things may have been different if I decided to stick with dance class, instead.
Deciding to go to Clark over Wheaton: I really loved my years at Wheaton, but I often wonder what would have happened and how different things would have been if I had gone to Clark. Would I still have ended up in the same place I am today, or would things have been very different?
Majoring in Physics and Astronomy, as I had planned, instead of just minoring in Astronomy: I always wonder about this. I honestly think that my life would have been totally different. I have no doubt I would have met different people, and possibly be in a different career today
Playing Softball at Wheaton instead of Field hockey: Of course this totally assumes I would have even made the team, but I always wonder. I only played Field hockey for two years at Wheaton and often wonder if I would have fit in better?
Going abroad while at Wheaton: This is one thing I still regret to this day. I was planning to go to Ireland 2nd semester my Junior year and I ended up staying at Wheaton so I could finish my minor in astronomy instead.
Going to NACA conference senior year at Wheaton: This is where I first saw Howie Day perform, which ultimately brought Greg and I together. I often wonder if I hadn't seen Howie at NACA, if I wouldn't have brought him to campus twice in 2001, would I still have been traveling around the country to see him, would I still have ultimately met Greg?
Applying for an upaid event company's summer internship vs. applying to AmeriCorps: I often wonder what would have happened if I had tried to get the unpaid summer internship after graduation vs. getting into the AmeriCorps program that placed me in Cambridge.
Doing a second years as a VISTA: I was really close to applying to a AmeriCorps *VISTA second year. I really loved working at Lesley University, I loved my place in Cambridge and I was really close to applying to a second year, which would have meant, I may have never worked at Brandeis.
Moving to NYC: Greg and I applied to graduate school in both Boston and NYC. I got into BC and NYU, I always wonder what would have happened if we had decided to stay in Boston, instead of moving to NYC
Leaving the NYC Teaching Fellows Program: I always wonder if I would have eventually made it as an 8th grade Earth Science Teacher? Should I have stuck it out? What would I be like today if I had decided to stick it out a bit longer?
Clinton Global Initiative: After I left the NYC Teaching Fellows Program, I started applying to new jobs immediately. I got my job so quickly at CAS, I didn't even have a chance to wait out other applications I had out there. The day I accepted the job at CAS, I got a phone call for a job interview at the Clinton Global Initiative. It was pretty much my dream job. I would have been a campus coordinator, and my job would have been traveling around to college campuses, working with students and educating them about how they could get involved, issues of social justice and advocacy. I always wonder if I would have gotten that job?
Suggesting Greg apply to his current job at the library: I actually found the job on line and told Greg he should apply. He wasn't sure he wanted to apply and did not think he would get the job, I often wonder where we would be now and what would have happened if he didn't apply.
I feel like I have to stop this somewhere, as I could probably go on forever. There are those times when you are running late and you see an accident where you could have hypothetically been if you had been on time. There are so many things I would change if I could, people that were taken too soon, cases where I would have tried to fix things and change things if I could. I am not even going into these what ifs, because it would truly open up the floodgates. I am keeping my floodgates about the things I chose and decided over the years (well, maybe except for moving to Granite Street, I was only 3).
Similar to the Seinfeld episode "The Opposite" where George becomes convinced that every decision he has ever made has been wrong and he decides to do the opposite of all of his instincts and his "common sense." Come to find out, George's life improves considerably when he stops following his instincts. I often wonder if I make good, sensible decisions. What would my "opposite" life look like?
I try hard to not take this all too far, again, because I am happy where I am. I just find it so fascinating as a thought experiment. How different would I have been. If we each really have a "destiny" would I have ended up in the same place any way, or does each left vs. right, "yes" vs. "no" really alter our entire future.
Again, I try and find comfort in the fact that there is slightly altered version of "Patty" out there that plays the flute, went to Ireland, is an Astrophysicist, lives in Boston, works with the Clinton Global Initiative and is a famous dancer.
For now, I am happy being the Patty that I am. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had, as I truly believe the lessons I needed to learn have brought me where I am today. Here's to hoping I can continue to not lose the lesson, regardless of what may happen and enjoy this universe and version of "Patty."
and that's all she wrote...