What if?


Arpita Das

What the UVM campus looks like at night and a picture I never would’ve captured if I had turned down the oppurtunity to attend such a memorable conference.

What if I had gone in-person freshman year? 

What if I had never taken APUSH sophomore year?

What if I had never joined The Central Trend?

What if I had never tested out of Algebra 1? 

What if I hadn’t made an effort to go visit my virtual teachers in person? 

What if I had transferred to a different high school? 

What if I had stopped working? 

Exactly what would have changed, and exactly what would I have foregone? 

Truth be told, there’s no way to tell, but what is true is that these are all thoughts that have proliferated through my brain at least one point in my life. But I want to see if you can distinguish the commonality between all these statements: it’s the phrase “What if?” That’s what I always used to focus on. I always used to fixate on a minuscule factor of my life that I could have modified instead of looking at the bigger picture. But instead of thinking about what it could’ve been, instead, I’m going to predict all the outcomes of all the scenarios I just listed. 

I wouldn’t be as close with the teachers that I am with now. 

I would have been apprehensive about taking another AP history class in my junior year. 

I would continue to remain a nobody to the upperclassmen. 

I wouldn’t ever have met one of my best friends. 

I would simply be a face without a name just wandering the halls. 

I would’ve missed out on a myriad of experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. 

I would’ve missed out on a myriad of experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. 

I wouldn’t have realized the true power of empathy and the capability that one holds when they are able to practice the ability to be open-minded. 

Now, obviously, there’s no way to tell what the outcomes could’ve been, and theoretically, I could spend my entire life pondering and pondering about the things I could’ve changed, but I won’t. The world hasn’t created a time machine yet, and I doubt they will anytime soon.

Regardless of what the world does, I need to stop pondering and I need to start pushing instead. It’s the second semester of my junior year, and yet I find myself in a similar spot that I was in a year ago. But this time, I have a new perspective—a fresh perspective from a lens that allows me to only perceive the experiences I have endured from a positive standpoint.

It’s easy to look at life from a dark perspective; believe me, I would know. I have endured more highs and lows than the normal high schooler should. But do you know what the most powerful part of your mind is? You’re in control of it—but you probably already knew that. What I’m trying to say is that life is what you make it; I learned this the hard way, unfortunately, because why worry about what could’ve been when you can instead focus on what’s ahead of you? 

Life is like a row of dominoes: when you push one, the other one falls, too, and no matter if you decide to pull out a domino, the row of dominoes is still bound to fall, one way or another.

So please don’t make the same mistake I did and try to rewrite parts of your life that have already been written in permanent markers. It’s a waste of time, and seeing what happens in the future will leave you much more satisfied. In return, the universe will give you a multitude of “full circle moments.” So with that being said, here are some of my difficult to understand, yet gratifying “full circle moments.” 

I don’t regret going online freshman year: it taught me to be flexible from a young age. 

The toughest class I took sophomore year is being taught by who is now one of the most inspiring teachers I’ve ever met during my senior year. I have bittersweet thoughts about this. 

I’m finally a part of something bigger than myself, and I’m not just a staff writer; one of my best friends is my boss, and I’m ecstatic to be working under her leadership. 

Struggling in an advanced-level math class is a small price I’m willing to pay to become closer to a person who changed my life in ways she isn’t even aware of. 

I wouldn’t have an inspiring teacher in my corner to give me corny pep talks about life lessons and the importance of history and how it shaped humanity. 

Without a doubt, there’s no way to tell the exact outcomes, and I don’t plan on finding out, because this time of year, I’ve decided to stop questioning all the “What if” moments in my life.