The Road Not Taken

I often spend time thinking about what my life would be like if I’d taken different paths. It’s a fascinating concept; the idea that life constantly demands that we make choices, and though we have no way of knowing how things may have turned out if we had chosen differently, it’s fun to wonder.

In the film Sliding Doors, we get to see how Gwyneth Paltrow’s character’s life would have been diffrent if she hadn’t missed a train. You could probably drive yourself crazy wondering how life may have been different if all the small things had or hadn’t happened. We’ve all missed trains, or turned left instead of right, and we’ll never know how those small and seemingly inconsequential decisions affect our lives.

The Road Not Taken

~ Letterpress Poetry Print available from Lennah Press on Etsy ~

But, in my life, there are a few things that, had they gone differently, would almost definitely have affected who I am today.

  • When I was finishing primary school, my parents decided that they didn’t want to send me to local secondary school, where all my brothers and sisters had gone before me. They chose instead to send me to one about ten miles away. I am not entirely sure what made them decide to do this, but it’s a decision I ever resented. Now, at the ripe old age of 31, three of my best friends (and favourite human beings) are people I met at that school. There is next to no chance that I would know them now if I had gone to the other school!
  • I was meant to go to university straight out of sixth form, but I decided to take a year out. The year turned into six years, and I ended up attending university as a mature student. This is another decision that I don’t regret; it was absolutely the right thing for me to have done, but I have to wonder how my university experience may have been different if I had attended as an eighteen year old, and indeed, how that experience would have affected the sort of person I am today.
  • When I eventually did go to university, despite being what was termed a mature student (I never felt particularly mature), I applied to live in halls. I was allocated a room, and then a couple of weeks later, I was contacted to say that I was being allocated a different room. It was in the same building, just a couple of floors lower or higher. For me, making friends has never been easy, and the best way for me to even think about talking to new people was to get to know the people in my flat. Hannah and Samm were those people, and through them I met Daniela and Richard. Those four people became my best friends and university, and as I never shared a class with any of them, I have to assume that I never would have met them if I’d been in that original room. I can’t even begin to tell you how different my life would be if Hannah wasn’t in it, and I think that all of my university friends will be in my life for a long time. I like to think that I would have made at least a handful of friends no matter what had happened, but I’m very glad that I made the friends I did!

So these are my three Sliding Doors/Turn Left moments that sometimes give me pause for thought. It’s fun to imagine that there are alternate Janes out there, leading different lives!

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  • Reply Bonnie York #thegnd

    I Love this sooooo sooooooo much ! Such a wonderous fascinating subject 🙂 My favorite blog of this year so far 🙂 xx

    January 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm
    • Reply Janey

      Thanks! I really enjoyed writing it, as I said, it’s something I often think about! 🙂

      January 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm
  • Reply bevchen

    Oooh, very deep!

    When I did my year abroad, I originally wanted to go to Austria. My uni only had one exchange place in Innsbruck though, so I got my second choice (Karlsruhe). People often tell me it was “lucky” I didn’t get my first choice because if I had, I would never have met Jan. On the other hand, maybe I would have met someone else, who had less trouble making his mind up, and would be married with children by now! I usually find it best not to hink about these things…

    January 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm
    • Reply Janey

      Yeah, these things can go either way! There are definitely decisions in my life that I have made that have led me to places that I haven’t appreciated! I preferred to concentrate on the more positives outcomes in this post 🙂

      January 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Nayna Kanabar (@SIMPLYF00D)

    I have always believed that things happen for a reason , you might not appreciate that reasoning at the time but looking back on it often then not you realise that it was the right path for you.

    January 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm
    • Reply Janey

      I am not sure how I feel about things happening for a reason, I can’t decide if I believe it or not! It’s definitely fun to think about though.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm
  • Reply lisa prince

    you seem to have made some lovely friends , wishing you the best in your university life ahead x

    January 9, 2014 at 4:13 pm
    • Reply Janey

      Thanks for your comment – I actually finished university a few years ago, even if I do still wish I was there!

      January 10, 2014 at 3:57 pm
  • Reply Rachael (@hookstitch)

    I know what you mean, I wonder what road my life had taken if I had taken on doing a PhD or not moved to the US although with the later i’d probably still be stuck in Boots working in a pharmacy.

    January 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm
    • Reply Janey

      Yeah, I certainly like to think that most of the decisions I have made have had positive repercussions, but you never know!

      January 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply Louise

    I am always wondering what would have happened if I’d done X or Y instead of Z!

    The day before my grandma died she said to my mum “Lou’s grown up fast hasn’t she? Who’s the blonde man and little girl she’s with?” Of course, I was only 13 and wasn’t even at the hospital but for the past 10 years I’ve been with Nathan (who is blonde) and we have a little girl, Stacey. However, we now have Oscar as well and I worry that something is going to happen to him because my grandma didn’t ‘see’ him. I just hope it means that I’ve chosen a different path to the one I was on and that’s why. Life is just so scary.

    Louise x

    Confessions of a Secret Shopper

    January 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm
    • Reply Janey

      Thanks for your comment – it’s definitely something that I spend a lot of time thinking about! Your story is an interesting one, but I would say don’t worry too much about your little boy. I’m sure that the path that you did take that led to you having him was the right one for you, and that you have nothing to worry about. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a parent, you must be in a constant state of worry! 🙂

      January 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm
  • Reply Janet

    I like this idea. I often wonder how different my life would have been if I’d bothered doing some work during A Levels and got my grades for my first choice university, Manchester, instead of coming to Leicester – my second choice.

    January 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm
    • Reply Janey

      I think about the fact that I could have worked harder throughout my entire academic career all the time, I think things would have been a lot different for me too.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm
  • Reply Vicky

    I get like that alot, wondering if things would have been different if only I’d have done X instead of Y. For me, it’s not a good thing, as I need to be looking forwards rather than back for my own peace of mind, but for those with less troubled pasts, I can see it being quite an interesting thought. I love sliding doors – but this make me think more of Stargate SG-1 where they often meet themselves in paralell universes and they are totally different. It does make you think. Great piece – so well written! 🙂
    Love Vicky
    Around and Upside Down

    January 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm
    • Reply Janey

      Thank you, and thank you so much for your comment! I can definitely see why it would be a hard thing to think about; I think it’s probably best not to dwell on these things, but it can definitely be fun to think about from time to time.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm
  • Reply shazzarob

    Wow that is deep.These moments happen for us all i imagine. Years ago i was married to my childhood sweetheart.who knows how my life would have turned out if we had stayed together.He has three kids now. But i know that although i assumed i would have children oneday, in reality I never actually wanted any and am glad i am with a like minded person now. To the girl called Louise please dont worry about what your gran saw.she may have seen people from the past or your daughter before your son wa born~ if you believe in things like that. I am not v opened minded about these things though.My friend J was told several times by medium types that she wouldnt have children which sent her into a hysterical mess.She of course now has two beautiful kids.:-D x

    January 9, 2014 at 7:43 pm
    • Reply Janey

      It’s been interesting to read everyone else’s what if moments too – I am torn between thinking that everything happens for a reason and thinking that everything is random!

      January 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm
  • Reply manchesterflickchick

    Wow, there really were 3 very distinct parts of your life that could have been very different. I often wonder myself how how school might have been different if my best mate had gone to the local high school with the rest of us. Also if I hadn’t have done a crap year at my 6th form I wouldn’t have met up with my high school mates a year after at another college. Also who would I have met if I went to uni? If I hadn’t had a terrible friendship with a weird bloke I wouldn’t have met his mate who’s been my partner for 5 years!

    January 10, 2014 at 12:27 am
    • Reply Janey

      I really enjoyed writing this post, but I also really enjoyed reading about everyone else’s what if moments too! We all have them, and I think it’s fun to think about them, though probably best not to dwell on them too much. As Robert Frost said “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.” We can’t ever go back, so it’s best just to get on with life!

      January 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm
  • Reply Erika

    I did the same thing regarding university. It is an interesting concept to review things you have done in your life and how they may have affected the route you ultimately took.

    Great post!

    January 10, 2014 at 6:46 am
    • Reply Janey

      Thank you! It’s definitely interesting to think about, though as I’ve said to other commenters, probably best not to dwell too much on these things. That way madness probably lies!

      January 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm
  • Reply January on Is That You Darling | Is That You Darling

    […] The Road Not Taken […]

    February 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm
  • Reply lewiswalsh

    I find myself thinking about the REALLY little things in this context. What if I’d driven a different route home from work that day? What if I went swimming at 9pm and not 6pm? What if I bought the blue pullover and not the black pullover that day? The big stuff, I think, tends to have some obvious (and not so obvious) outcomes.

    February 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm
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