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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

CADY: Realizing decisions matter, change future

Grace takes a walk in the Third Ward during her summer orientation at Marquette August 2021. Photo courtesy of Grace Cady
Grace takes a walk in the Third Ward during her summer orientation at Marquette August 2021. Photo courtesy of Grace Cady

I have always been somebody who believes in the phenomenon of “if a butterfly flaps its wings, it can change the weather half a world away” – otherwise known as chaos theory or the butterfly effect.

In simple terms, chaos theory is the idea that everything in the world is interconnected and one thing cannot happen without affecting another. I believe that we are all living in chaos theory and the thought of that causes something very similar to happen in my mind: chaos.

There is nothing that can be without a cause. I think about this in the context of my parents. They met on a rainy day here in Milwaukee when my mom walked into the McGillycuddy’s bar and took my dad’s hat from him in order to cover up her wet hair. They didn’t know each other, my mom is just a very bold woman.

Yet, I think about what would have happened if it had not been raining. What would have happened if my dad hadn’t been wearing a hat? They may never have even met and I may never have come to exist. My sister, my home, my family, my life, it could all have been nothing, but it was made into something by one little moment that could have never happened. 

We are all products of chance. Whether you believe in God, the stars or nothing, chance is a constant truth.

All that we can really do in life is move with the best intentions, make decisions we believe are right and cross our fingers. I think about that with myself a lot. I have had so much uncertainty in life and with that I have always wondered how different things could’ve been.

When I was fifteen I wanted to go to college in Boston or somewhere Vermont.

When I was seventeen I chose to go to school in Missouri.

When I was nineteen I changed my mind and came to school here in Milwaukee.

But I still sometimes take myself down oune million paths of the way my life could have been. I could be getting coffee in downtown Boston right now. I could be waking up to a view of mountains and reading in my cozy bedroom in Vermont. I could be stuck in the same loneliness I felt in Missouri if I hadn’t had the courage to make a change.

But none of these things are happening: I am here, now, in Milwaukee living the life I actually ended up with.

I think about this in the context of relationships as well. I happened to be in the same psychology class as someone I dated for three years of my life. Had I been in a different class, all of those moments and memories may have never even been reality. I don’t really know if I would be the same person now – I do know I would have had a very different experience during some of the most formative years of my life had I not had this relationship. I know I would have had an entirely different first love. I know I would have not had that happiness and hurt. I know everything really would have been different for me.

It is so easy to get lost in our minds and wish and wonder what could have been. What could that relationship have become? What if I never said that? What if I did say that? Where would I be if I did this? – it is a never ending journey of thought.

This feeling can be truly overwhelming. All of the moments that could have been or could never be. Although, there can also be peace in knowing this.

The reality is that we only have so much control. If you subscribe to the chaos theory – or “butterfly effect” – as I do, you know that there is always a little invisible string tying pieces of our life together.

It can be so easy to wish we had made a different choice or wonder what would happen if we did, but exhausting ourselves over lives we are not living will not help us reach the potential of the one we are.

Instead of wondering what could have been, wonder what could be. Look forward to tomorrow, next week, next year and ground yourself in the realization that you can only do what you feel in your heart is best and hope that the butterflies running our lives land us somewhere we can find contentment.

This story was written by Grace Cady. She can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Grace Cady
Grace Cady, Managing Editor of the Marquette Journal
Grace Cady is a senior at Marquette University from Delafield, Wisconsin. She is majoring in journalism and political science. This year she will be the managing editor of the Journal. Outside of the Wire, Grace likes to read, write creatively, watch movies and spend time with friends & family. Prior to this year, she served as the executive opinions editor at the Wire and has held intern positions at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine and the National Federation of Federal Employees in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Grace is part of the O'Brien Investigative Fellowship program this year alongside Julia Abuzzahab.

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