What if is a difficult line of thought, and can go many ways. It can relate to people, places, circumstances, jobs, dreams, hopes and wishes. Any of these and more.
- What if circumstances were different? Should you try again?
- What if you quit your job? Would you be able to find another? Would you be able to support yourself and your family?
- What if you stood up for yourself against a bully? What would happen?
- What if you moved to a different part of the country (or world)? Would things work out better there?
- What if you took a risk on starting something new? Would you regret it?
- What if you took a risk on your dreams? Would it work?
‘What if’ means to wonder what would happen if you took a risk, what would happen if you took a chance on something, and to wonder what would happen if things were different.
For a lot of people, ‘what if’ is the stuff of daydreams. I’ve met people who think it’s ludicrous to wonder ‘what if’, they see it as completely pointless. But how can it be pointless? ‘What if’ is motivating, it forces us to work out what we want and what kind of person we are, and what we are willing to fight for. Anything worth having isn’t easy, anything worth having involves risk, if we want the things worth having in life then we have to take risks, we have to wonder ‘what if’
‘What if’ opens us up to potential, to possibility. Yes, this can mean wonderful things, but it can also mean disappointment, hurt, anger, and regret. Following through on the ‘what if’ can be either the best or the worst thing that ever happens to us. And the only way to find out which it is, is to try. And if you don’t want to try? Then you probably don’t want it enough, in which case, don’t try, and stop wondering ‘what if’.
Time changes everything, people change, circumstances change. Things might work out. Or they might not work out at all, and it could be all horrible and awful for a while until you recover. Or they might work out temporarily, then déjà vu happens and you wonder why you bothered. You bothered for one reason, because you had to, because you wanted whatever it was, because you had to know, you had to find out.
I’ve got so many examples for this, I wonder ‘what if’ all the time, and will usually give everything and everyone another chance (sometimes even when I really, really shouldn’t). It certainly hasn’t always worked out by a long shot. But I’ve no regrets, so c’est la vie. In terms of relationships, I have two examples of where I wondered ‘what if’ and tried again. We had another go because circumstances were different, sometimes you have to find out what might have happened. Well, in both cases there was the initial smokescreen of being happy post reconciliation, before the smoke evaporated and I was left with men who didn’t really want to try, and were still as ready to walk away from me as before. I figure, when it comes to relationships, circumstances are irrelevant, if a situation was enough to break you up, then you weren’t going to last anyway. I have a close friend who can prove me wrong, who is very happy since she reconciled with her partner many years ago. But I’ve seen the other side now, I’m not sure I’d risk it again.
I’ve wondered ‘what if’ with regards to moving to a different part of the country, and to a different part of the world. I nearly moved to Australia in 2005, and I’m glad that never came about, because gorgeous as Australia is, I’d have probably ended up moving back to the UK anyway as I broke up with the guy I was going to move there with. I did wonder ‘what if’ with regards leaving where I lived though, and I ended up moving to another part of the country to find out, leaving the majority of my friends, and walking away from my job. I literally walked away from my old life. And I have never regretted that for one second.
‘What if’ can sometimes lead to the best decisions you ever make. But I can also lead to the worst you’ll ever make too. Had I not wondered ‘what if’ in relation to a previous relationship I would probably have never been pushed down a set of steps, and (unrelated to this incident) I wouldn’t have ended up being admitted to hospital after losing a baby.
If you wonder ‘what if’ then go in with your eyes open, think about all the options so carefully. Yes, ‘what if’ can mean that you get everything you ever wanted, but it can also mean that you end up finding out your dreams are a special kind of hell that you wouldn’t want your worst enemies to go through.
Just from my experience, so this is only my perspective (and I’ve no doubt there are many others), but for me, ‘what if’ rarely turns out the way you think. None of the things that I’ve done during my quest to find out ‘what if’ have turned out the way I thought. Yes, relationships were temporarily rekindled, yes I got a good job and successfully moved to another part of the country. But I also go hurt each and every time.
The relationships simply fell apart again, because they were never going to work, and looking back I’m not remotely surprised they failed. But the move up here led to me having my beautiful daughter, I might be a single parent, but she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Although I love this part of the world, I’m still not doing my dream job, that’s still a work in progress, I’m still wondering ‘what if’ and looking for ways to achieve this. The point is I’ve not given up.
‘What if’ makes your head a confused place a lot of the time, and you can tie yourself up in knots thinking about all the different things that may, or may not, happen. If you have doubts, listen to them. Is it that you’re worried about a particular outcome, or you’re worried history will repeat itself? Do you have valid reasons for being concerned? Or is it just you worrying because you’re scared of taking a leap of faith? Talk to the people who care about you, what do they think? People who know you and trust you will tell you the truth. Of course, you might not like the truth when they share it with you, but it’s what you need to hear all the same.
The relationships – yeah, the people closest to me told me not to do it, of course they did, they didn’t want me getting hurt and could see what I couldn’t – that I was making a mistake. The move up here, nothing but support from them, and the attempts to work towards my dream job, well they’re practically cheering from the sidelines and shouting words of encouragement!
Listening to those who love you is one of the most important things to do when you’re thinking ‘what if’. I was once told I listen to my friends too much. So I didn’t, and what happened was I ignored their advice and ended up being pushed down a set of steps and having to move to another part of the country to restart my life. Ok, the move worked out well, I’d have probably done that anyway, but I could have done without twice thinking I was going to die along the way. The guy who told me I listened to my friends too much was one of the guys they were telling me to be careful of. They were right. Funny that.
‘What if’ can completely mess with your head and chew up your insides, it can get in the way of your every waking (and sleeping) thought, regardless of the likely outcome. You have two choices, stop wondering or find out! There isn’t any other way to resolve the ‘what if’. If you decide to stop wondering, then stop, walk away and don’t regret anything about that decision. If you can’t and you have to find out, then stop bellyaching and go find out. Why wait?
None of us want people in our lives who don’t want to be there, if you’re not sure if someone wants to stick around and work things out, then ask them. If they can’t give you a straight answer, walk away. Life might be hard, but love is easy, wanting to keep someone around that you love is not a decision, it’s simply a fact of life.
None of us want to stay in an area of the country that makes us miserable. If you can’t stay, then move. If you can’t move, find a way to resolve what’s making you miserable. No, it’s not always that easy to do either of these, but if you want to enough, you’ll find a way eventually.
None of us want to get hurt, but living life with a safety net stops all the amazing things happening as well as keeping us safe. Remove the option for pain and hurt, and you remove the option for happiness and joy. You cannot have one extreme without the other, things only hurt because they matter. If something doesn’t hurt, then it doesn’t matter. Life really does happen at the end of your comfort zone.
So much of our lives are in our control, we are free to make choices all the time, and mostly we know what choices we want to make. We all wonder ‘what if’, and I’m not sure I believe people who say they don’t.
Don’t give up on what, or who, you can’t stop thinking about. It might work out, or it might not. But the only way to find out is to try.
It’s either worth waiting for, or not worth worrying about.