I have often wondered over the years what my life would be like if I had made some decisions differently. Some are decisions long since made; others are more recent. In one way or another, all our decisions, major and minor, have an affect on our lives. But the major decisions really have the most influence on the direction our lives take. What if I had gone to a different college? What if I had chosen a different major? What if I had played a different sport? All these life and character building choices make us who we are today. If we are happy with our lives, I think we tend to think less about the road not taken than if we are unhappy or dissatisfied. And some may believe that we are destined for a certain life and there are many paths to it; if we don’t start out on the right one or somehow wander off of it, we are eventually guided back by the hands of fate. I can’t tell you if I truly believe in fate or destiny. But sometimes it does feel like the universe is testing me, challenging me to try and wrench back control of my own fate, all the while laughing at me because Fate knows the outcome will be the same, regardless of how much I fight it.
Looking back on my life, I can think of several choices that made differently would probably have resulted in a very different life than the one I have now. But how far back do you go when thinking about “What If”? Life is a chain of events, all influenced by the decisions you’ve made in the past. I don’t want to spend my life looking at my past and wondering if I would be any better off if I had done something else. That kind of thinking will make you crazy. You can’t live in the present if your mind is trapped in the past. That said, there is one major decision that I think about more than anything else.
In high school, I played softball for my school and played tennis for fun. I had played softball since I was old enough to hold a bat. I was a good infielder and before an injury, very fast. My batting skills were decent. Tennis was something I struggled with but played with my mom and friends for fun. I couldn’t hit a backhand to save my life and my serve was non-existent. As I continued to play both sports, my tennis skills improved while my softball skills leveled off. By my sophmore year, I had a killer forehand and used it to my advantage. The summer before my junior year, my tennis game very suddenly came together. I had a very good backhand, a good serve, and a forehand that I could put just about anywhere I wanted. And I hit the ball hard and fast. My mom and I played every morning in the summer at the courts my high school used. A few weeks before school started, we were out there when the girls tennis team started practice. I knew most of the girls on the team and was friends with some of them. One morning, the coach stood and watched my mom and I play. She later approached me and asked me if I was interested in playing on the team that year. Because I worked part-time during the year, I had made the decision to only play one sport, which was softball. I told her I was flattered and thanked her, but that I wouldn’t be able to fit tennis and work into my schedule. I wasn’t going to get any better at softball and had no chance of going further with it, but for whatever reason felt I needed to stay with it. Tennis was a different story. I would’ve gotten better and I could have gone on to play in college. In fact, one summer in college I was approached by the junior college coach and asked if I was a student. I told him I was at another university and he said that was too bad. He wanted to recruit me. Had I said yes to the tennis coach in high school, my life would not be the same. I don’t know that I would have gone on past college tennis. I don’t know what I’d be doing as a career. But I do often think of what life could have been like with this one different choice.
I do know that if I had played tennis, I wouldn’t have gone to UC Davis. I would not have made the friends that I have. I would not have the career that I have now. I would not have met my ex-husband. I would not have gone back to school for my Masters and written my thesis. I would not have met my current partner. And chances are, I wouldn’t be writing here on OS. My life is what it is, for better or worse. I often feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, even if that place is stressful and difficult a good portion of the time right now. But I am here. And I’m doing my best these days to find the positive in this life, as imperfect as it is.