“What if she was meant to be, or could have been, someone important in my life? I think that’s what scares me: the randomness of everything. That the people who could be important to you might just pass you by. Or you pass them by. How did you know?” –Peter Cameron, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
‘What if…?’ This question pops up in most of our minds at least once a day. It seems to occur the most in the minds of adolescents. They are always wondering and worrying where their lives are going and how their futures will be affected with every decision that they make. The protagonist James in Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron reflects on this question. He is an introvert; he is not proactive in reaching out to others; nor does he seem to value human contact. One of the few times James tries to express his feelings it does not go well and he loses the respect of his co-worker, John, the one person he considers his friend. What if James had just asked John out for lunch or dinner? He would have been better off asking and getting shut down, but still have John as a friend, than playing a joke on John and losing him altogether. What if James had decided to go to the play to which his future roommate at Brown had invited him? It could have helped him rethink about going to college; he might have discovered that his roommate was someone he could talk to. But James allows these moments of opportunities to form a human connection to pass by, asking ‘what if’ after the chance is gone.
This characteristic of James made me think about my own ‘what if’ moments. Not so much with people in my life but with life decisions. What if I did not decide to come to Franklin and Marshall and become a Spring Admit student? (What if all of us in this seminar did not decide to come here?) I would not have gotten to experience my gap fall semester in Dublin, but the sad part is that I would not have actually known what I was missing out on. I look back on my experience and tell myself I would have missed out on so much, but then again I would not have actually known what I missed out on. I would not have met such amazing people on my trip and at Franklin and Marshall. My life would have continued to be me being afraid of new experiences and being afraid to be open to new things. But by taking that leap and going to Dublin I doubt myself less and I take more risks. By taking that chance I now have a whole new outlook on life and how each decision I make will affect me and my future.