Yesterday, I took my (hopefully) last certification test that will allow me to become a secondary grades English teacher in my state. As I drove into the parking lot of the nearby university where I took the exam, I experienced a form of distorted nostalgia. I don’t attend this university. In fact, I attend a college that is the university’s rival in athletic events. However, as I scurried into the building to be tested on my “What would you do?” scenarios, I wondered, “Would I have had classes in this room?”
You see, the university I went to was the one I was planning to attend for the majority of my high school career. It’s what everybody did from my county if they wanted to be away from home, but not too far away from home. I was locked into my decision, and no one was going to change my mind. I knew what dorm I would be staying in, where I would eat my meals, and I knew that quite a few students from my graduating class were going to that specific university. Like all good plans though, my plans were broken after making a “just for kicks” visit to the college I attend now.
Though I am now a senior at a college that I love, I still live with an inkling of “What if?” I wonder what it would have been like if I would have went to the other university instead of the college I am at now. Would I have been the same person? A different person? More or fewer friends? Still an English major (more than likely, yes!)? Even though I am happy and satisfied at my current institution of learning, yesterday resurrected the feelings of “What if?” and a little of “What might have been?” I looked around at the campus and wondered what life would have been like if I would have simply stayed home when my parents begged me to visit “the other school.” I’ll never know on this side of eternity what the outcome would have been, but when I do get on the other side, I’m not for sure if it will be a priority on my list of things to know.
Of course, living with the dreaded and curious “What if?” isn’t limited to one’s selection of colleges and universities. “What if?” can pop up in human relationships, financial decisions, and in our choice of words. Though I may never lose the nagging feeling associated with wondering about my various alternative histories and futures, I can use the feelings to better appreciate where I am currently in life. However, if I can’t let go in the name of appreciating where I am now, then I can let go simply for the fact that “What if?” is the distorted reality of something that really never was.