What and If are two reasonably simple and innocent words that, when used seperately, have two very different meanings. When I put them together, they possess the power to let me think that what I’ve done in my life so far is one big load of crap. Like all decisions I have made don’t matter anymore. Like all precautions I have taken to protect myself from the big, bad world were only masks, façades to hide behind without having to show what I really think or feel.
There are so many things I still want to do in my life, but haven’t done because I… don’t have the money, don’t have the time, don’t have the courage. The fear to fail. “What if…” articulates the possibility of missing out on amazing opportunities, to let things that in hindsight you had would have wanted to do, could have done, shóuld have done… Sometimes I picture myself laying on my deathbed, as a gray old lady surrounded by at least 100 children and grandchildren and loved ones. I picture that every loved one is replaced by a ghost figure, a personification of every missed chance in life, evey dream not chased – standing there dark and ominously, looking at me in accusation like they are trying to say: What am I doing here, why haven’t you lived me, why haven’t you just tried to do what made you happiest?
If I’m scared of anything in life, it’s that one day my children and grandchildren will say about me “What a wasted life that was, she could have done so many things with those talent of hers, how far could she have come, IF she had just simply DONE it.” I’m scared shitless to let chances slide that could have been vital to me, chances that could have influenced who I am, that could have turned me into the person I want to be. This is why with everything that comes on my path I wonder what will happen if I don’t do it. What if… I don’t go to Rome to learn Italian, what if I choose not to pursue a Masters Degree, what if I studied harder and networked less, what if I had gotten higer grades, what if I hadn’t fallen for the charmes of that one man, what if….
I can’t write about lost loves, men that have broken my heart after a relationship of years – because I haven’t had any. I don’t know what it’s like to have my heart broken by a loved one, a lover. Wait – that’s a lie. Especially the people that are close, really close to you, can easily break your heart. You trust them with it, expect it to be in good hands with them, and you set great expectations for those who are trusted with your heart. Too great expectations, maybe. I have had my heart broken by ones that I trusted it with many times. I have fallen many times, practically throwing my heart at them, only to see it being crushed before my eyes.
Alfred Lord Tennyson once said: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all.’
How often have I thought, well, F*** You, Tennyson. There’s a limit to how many times a person can handle losing, then to swear to never, ever, ever fall in love again. To never open up to guys again that weren’t as interested in me as I was in them. How often have I shouted that I was done, that I couldn’t take it anymore, to fall completely head over heals again a month later? Because even though I swear off love, it starts to knaw at me again. Because, what if this is the love of my life, and I fail to notice? What if I am closing myself off for something that could have been really great? What if? What if… What if. What if!
Two ostensibly simple and tenuous words can make a world of difference when put together. They do not solely express the fear of missing out. These two words mean so much more than that. To me, they express hope, the hope to encounter new possibilities, to undiscovered dimensions and experiences I had never imagined possible before. ‘What if’ allows me to dream further and to utilize each talent that I have been given to reach that one goal I could ever wish for in life: becoming happy with all that I am.
(This post is a translation of my previous post ‘Grenzeloze Mogelijkheden’ of 17/06/2012)