Saturday, 6 April 2019

What If?

What If?

“What if” is a question that haunts even the most confident and comfortable of souls. It began nagging at me whilst I started my wedding planning this weekend. As I sat scrawling down a guest list on a quiet Saturday afternoon in Costa coffee, I felt a wave of nostalgia come over me. 

Around 2 years ago I would have been sat in a Costa coffee with my laptop, desperately trying to piece together a business plan on how to start my own clothing boutique. I was completely unaware of the major life choice this business was about to introduce me to. Because in a months time I would meet my soul mate on an impromptu trip to Manchester to buy some of my boutique stock.

I suppose the “what if” in that moment would have been “what if I move to Manchester and this man actually turns out to be the one?" Or “what if my feelings for this man are too risky and I should stay put in Essex?”  
The fork in the road was the biggest fork I’d found in my life. Of course, I moved to Manchester, and as I finished off updating my wedding guest list, I knew I’d chosen the correct "what if".

But what if I would have chosen the wrong routes in life before now? What if there was an alternative universe where I had chosen the “correct” forks in the road and was living happier? Could I currently be living my life in a greyscale filter compared to a colour enriched full one?

There’s certainly a great uncertainty when you look back at decisions made and wonder "what if". It’s a dangerous game to play. What if I stayed on at university and completed my degree in English literature? Would I be a famous writer now? Would I own my own house? Would I be “accomplished” in life? Could I have got more from life if I had stuck out higher education?

What about my mental health in this whirlwind of “what ifs”? Would I be better or worse if I had chosen the correct option each time? I’m not so sure. The past is something unchangeable, but the future is very much changing all the time due to these “what if” questions we face. 
I do know that 4 years ago I would be asking myself questions such as: What if I never get better? What if I'm sick forever? What if my mental illness ends up taking my life? Those are questions I can now answer because of the time that has passed and lessons I have learnt. Yes, I will get better because I'm currently on the road to recovery. No, I won't be sick forever because I'm finally getting help. And no, my mental illness will never take my life because I won't let that happen. Its good to answer past "what ifs" and it feels like closing a book you forced yourself to finish, you can finally put it on the bookshelf and move forward.

Then there is the burning "what if" about decisions I didn’t realise were even decisions at the time... For example, entering into a relationship that ended up causing me pain. What if I turned away from my ex sooner? Would I have been cheated on by someone else if I'd never met him? Or was it a life lesson I needed to have? Maybe the pain of dishonesty and infidelity was an important lesson in my life. It might have been purposeful to open my eyes to see that the world isn’t as honest and true as I’d once believed. Or did it simply kill my fairytale view of life for no reason at all?

Before I got into that deceitful relationship at 19 years old, I saw the world through rose tinted sunglasses. Single life held no reward for me and I clung to the idea of a fairytale romance. I was a hopeless romantic waiting for my Prince Charming. Looking back on my first relationship when I was only 17 years old, it was a happy, positive and nurturing experience. It taught me to be affectionate, how to love hard and how to let my guard down. But even though (like most teenage relationships) it ended with tears, my ex boyfriend was nothing but kind and taught me that there was a lot of good in people after all. Although at the time I was sad my first serious relationship had ended, it left me thinking, what if this was just the tip of the iceberg? What if the next relationship I have blows this one out of the water? I was optimistic rather than daunted by the future ahead. 

Even though it took another 5 years my faith in love and fairytales was rescued when I met my fiancé in 2017. I can now cry at 'When Harry Met Sally' because I know what that type of love feels like rather than crying because I don’t believe it truly exists. The only "what if" that can send a shiver down my spine is the question: What if I never travelled to Manchester that day in 2017? Because at the time that tiny idea could've so easily been dismissed for a night at home binge watching tv and ordering a takeaway. I'd have missed my chance at a whirlwind romance that has given me my happily ever after and for what? A Chinese takeaway and some trash tv...

I’m glad I’ve gone through a journey of learning, even if some left a bitter taste. Mainly because I don’t jump into situations blindly like my naive younger self would have. I build up trust with people before opening my arms to them. I have learnt what I want from life and what I want to give back to it. I can't be upset with any decisions I have made as they led me to a life I would never change, living in Manchester with my fiancé, my fur baby, beautiful friends and family and my very own business.

But more importantly, I’ve learnt that life is full of the unknown and maybe that can be daunting but it can be exciting too.


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