Thursday, December 23, 2010


There’s been a lot of talk on the internet and the blogs lately about what you would like to tell your 16-year old self.

People have offered up answers from “It gets better” to “I will wind up happy…eventually
I’m intrigued by the notion of going back and slapping my stupid 18 to 22-year old self.  At times, it seems like I could have made better decisioins by flipping a coin than I did using my smarts. 

But, if I went back, surely that would change where I am now. Would I really want that? Certainly I would like to warn myself: Do Not Eat The Hummus.

But beyond that, would I want to tell myself not to do this or to do that? If I had done things differently, I wouldn’t have the two great kids I have now, but I would probably have other kids that I love just as much, so while I wouldn’t have Chuckles and Bobo, I might have Elizabeth and Gracie. That wouldn’t be bad. It would be different, and I wouldn’t know about the two great kids I missed out having. I would only know about the two great kids I have.


Once upon a time, my father asked me what I thought was the one decision I made in my life that had the greatest impact on where I was today. It’s a hard question, to be sure. I came up with something lame about my major in college.

My dad disagreed. He said that he thought the one decision I made that had the greatest impact was …wait…this needs back story or the sentence won’t make sense. When I was about 12, we lived in a euphemistically-labeled changing neighborhood, and we really needed to move to get me into a safe high school as mine was neither safe nor academically rigorous.
I was a good, smart kid who was capable of making terrible choices. Getting me out of the old neighborhood would limit the range of bad choices I would be able to make (or so the reasoning went). My mom gave me two choices. We could move to a really nice, 3BR-2Ba condo in a really neat building (with attached garage) that would have me going to one HS or we could live in a tiny 2BR-1.5Ba condo below street level next to a trailer park. I chose the trailer park because its HS was better (see... I was capable of making good choices too, plus I didn't have a boyfriend just then so I didn't feel the need to stay closer to him).
So, my father believes that the one decision I made that had the greatest impact was choosing to have my mom buy the condo in the better school district. It enabled me to excel academically, get into a good college, get out of the entire south side and away from the bad decisions I could make there, major in something that would get me a good job upon graduation, etc. It landed me in Ohio to meet, marry, and rear children with Mr. Long-Suffering.

What one, single decision you have made in your life has changed where you are today the most? It could be to marry who you did, to have (or not) kids, to have (or not!) a drink before driving, whatever it is you think that’s put you on this trajectory.


  1. Hmmm.

    Well, in terms of career, it is definitely choosing to go to the college I did. I don't think I would have majored in science at most other schools, for reasons that would take an entire blog post to explain.

    In terms of family- it was the choice after graduate school. I had a choice between a postdoc in DC and a job at a startup in NJ. I chose the startup in NJ, and that is where I met my husband.

  2. Dating my husband. He is the one who "made me" love him, thus move in with him and marry him and have children with him. But I was dating someone else when I met him, and the best decision I made was to tell my boyfriend at the time that I wanted to see other people and start dating my now-husband.

    I often think about the movie Sliding Doors (even though I've never seen it all) and how little choices really can change the trajectory of our lives.