Who are you in another life?

Who is this guy?

In the book The Midnight Library, the main character explores alternative versions of her life, new realities only possible had she made different choices and pursued other paths. Isn’t it an interesting concept?

Who would you be if you decided on a different major, partner, hobby, or city? How different would your life be if you went for another opportunity where your life forked previously? How would your relationships look like if you chose the alternative? Would you even like this version of yourself?

Of course, it is impossible for us to know, but it can be fun to imagine. I asked Markus these questions and he said, in another life he could be a German lawyer or a scuba diving instructor in Thailand. In another life, we never met each other because he chose to travel to Africa instead of Asia. From here, the possibilities are endless.

I can think of certain points in my life where my specific decisions could have led to a whole new world. If I am standing in the Midnight Library right now and exploring alternative lives, I would probably be:

  • teaching Literature in a university in the province, single, with very long hair and a superiority complex;
  • a wanderer living on a backpack, aimlessly going with the flow, lounging on a beach every day and doing nothing;
  • in a busy delivery room, telling a mother to push with contractions and later holding a newborn in my gloved hands, asking myself why the smell of blood no longer registers on my nose;
  • married to a Filipino with many children, my world revolving around family, satisfied while thinking this is what a woman should do;
  • at my family’s home where I grew up, eating chicken wings, mainly sick, looking out of the window while breathing like a fish out of the water, failing to launch;
  • living alone in a small apartment in Makati City, reviewing hotels, disconnected, isolated, and looking for distractions on weekends;
  • fighting muay thai in Bangla Stadium in Phuket, training hard every day and enjoying the simplicity of this regimented life;
  • a yoga teacher in a wellness center, the kind who wears a long skirt every day and drinks herbal tea and eats magic mushrooms.

I do not know how I would feel about this version of me in alternative lives. I am sure each has its own ups and downs. It is quite fun to think about them though, to explore our what-ifs and could-bes and laugh about them.

How about you? Who would you be in another life?

52 thoughts on “Who are you in another life?

  1. Ooh I love this prompt and it is actually a question that I ask myself many times! Maybe because I haven’t really decided what I want to be yet 😊 One of the thigns that I keep gravitating towards are: a badass babe interpreter for the UN in NYC, a freelance journalist or blogger that travels all around the world, the owner of a cute cafe that serves breakfast food and cute pastries ahah maybe one day…!

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  2. I love reading the list of alternative you’s. It gives me a peek of some of your fears & hopes. Reading this makes me think about dreams and the power they have to comfort and keep us going.

    Alternative me would include:
    – a literature professor bridging the gap between the classics and contemporary fiction
    – a doctor in Tanzania

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  3. I’m reading a book called The Artist’s Way, and one of the activities is to do just this…think of five other things you would be other than what you are now.

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  4. Love your post. You just inspire me to write my own alternative version of myself. In whatever way you choose for yourself, I think you will reach the happiness you try to achieve. Among all the things important to a woman’s life, experience and choice are the most important. Many societies are afraid of women’s independence, which is why we also have to protect ourselves and make best decisions–sometimes this mean compromising.

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  5. Micah, all these are possibilities for you (some, you’ve already been, at one point) except for marrying a Pinoy…
    I haven’t thought of my possibilities.. I’d start thinking about it… (of course)

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  6. I would be working at the Smithsonian or at Mount Vernon taking my sweet time finding out the true color of the wall paper.
    I would be living in California working for the concept team for Disneyland.
    I would be a tour guide in York England.
    Or
    I would be a traveling professor talking about the why’s of American history.
    What a great question!!!!!

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  7. Oh this is fun!
    -If I had pursued the path I thought I would in high school, I’d probably be working as a translator for the Canadian government. Or maybe I’d realize I hated it and followed a different path.
    -If I had married my first serious boyfriend, I’d almost certainly be DIVORCED!
    -If I had got the airline job I applied for in my 20s, I would have travelled the world, but I wouldn’t have met my husband and had my two beautiful daughters.
    Those are the major forks in the road I’ve had to face in my life. I’ve always believed that things turn out as they’re supposed to.

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    1. Thank you for a great comment. I laughed when I read about the divorce. The airline job is interesting. I wonder if we still meet the people we are supposed to meet in our unlived lives but in a different way. It sure is interesting to think about this.

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  8. I would hope to be alive in any alternate universe. On my own, I would probably have gravitated to being a starving writer on the fringes of that world, maybe in the bookstore business. Or maybe working for a minor league baseball team and sticking close to baseball. Most likely I would have met someone who pointed or steered me in some direction I cannot imagine.

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      1. I think electronics and online book ordering have cut into the bookstore model. I loved playing and watching baseball, so maybe I should have scrounged for an entry level job selling scorebooks or cleaning up stadiums and spent the three decades of my working life progressing to top level positions in a field I could really enjoy. I do not regret going for the corporate money and providing well for my family but my advice to recent graduates has always been to follow your passions. You won’t burn out as easily.

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        1. Great advice, Geoff. It seems there is always a trade-off. But you are right – when we love what we do, we put in extra work that can invite the money. Markus always says this is the best argument for a UBI. People will be more empowered and involved and it will benefit society.

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  9. I recently took a “careers test,” the kind they give to high school students so they can figure out what they might want to do after graduation. It was just for fun—I’m out of the workforce now and have no intention of returning—but I was mildly surprised to see that it recommended I’d be a good pastor at a church, a social worker, or counselor. I guess it’s because I’m a good listener? And I’m sensitive to other people’s feelings? But the test also said I scored high in the “spirituality” area, that I have strong principles and faith in a higher power. I think this is a recent development: with the pandemic, climate change, and the push for racial equality—all the discussions about what we owe each other as a community and what we owe ourselves as individuals.
    My childhood dream career was to become a cowboy, however! And except for learning how to ride and care for a horse, I really haven’t pursued that at all. With good reason: it’s very dirty, tiring, and dangerous work.

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    1. These tests are always interesting, aren’t they? And yes, perhaps it is your listening skills and empathy. Was there any point in the past where you could have gone in any of these careers? I laughed when I read why not cowboy – it seems fun until we realized what it actually involves.

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      1. I did drop out of college briefly when I was in my early 20s, when I felt like writing endless papers and attending class discussions weren’t doing anything for me. Sort of in line with becoming a cowboy, I got a job working on an organic farm, tending to the chickens and harvesting acres of tomatoes by hand. It was brutal hard work—summers in the Central Valley are roasting hot, and I often worked in areas with no shade. There are also all sorts of things I didn’t know about raising animals, like chickens getting lice, and having to dunk them in a delousing bath to clean them off. And yes, the lice sometimes get on you! It’s why industrial egg farms keep chickens in these indoor cages, where they can’t go outdoors and pick up parasites and disease, but they also can’t move more than a few inches and often have to keep standing to prevent getting stepped on by its cage mates. Also, horses will step on your feet if you go into the stall before letting them out, and they like to headbutt you as a show of affection. They never mentioned that in those old Western movies! But anyway, it never occurred to me then to study for the priesthood—opportunities for women in religious life back then were very limited. Also, a friend of my parents who was a social worker told me it was all paper pushing and interviewing people who despised you for being the gatekeeper to the things they needed, housing, medical care, money for food and clothing. I wish I had been less beholden to the advice of elders back then. I told my kids to do what makes them happy, which had mixed results, but I think ultimately, they’re more content than I was in my 30s.

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  10. Daughter Lise is here, and I don’t have time for flights of fancy right now. I enjoyed all of your directions, but I’m glad you are in the real world where I can chat with you.

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      1. Lise flies back to Denmark on December 7. She usually spends Thanksgiving with us, but because of the virus, she also came in the spring. We were lucky to have her twice this year.

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  11. What a good question! I think in an alternate life I might be a psychologist with spiritual leanings. Except, truly, that path wouldn’t have taught as much as this life path has, so I am truly glad things didn’t work out with that angle for this lifetime.

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      1. Oh, I have been interested in psychology since studying it in 7th grade! I love the idea of helping people work through their own beliefs and emotions, finding an inner place of rest.

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  12. Your book mention sounds interesting. It is a fascinating to think about how different our lives might be if we had made a different decision on any given day – especially the decisions that led to meeting a significant someone or starting a job, or not.

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    1. Yes, I thought the book was interesting, but it was meant for a different reader at a different place in life than where I am when I read it. Still, it was entertaining. How different would your life be then if you chose a different career perhaps?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t think I ever felt like being anyone else! Yes, I’ve had major turning points in my life that might have taken me elsewhere, like being turned for the Navy because I wore glasses, but where I am now is where I’m meant to be! 🙋‍♂️

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  14. I’ve read that book too Micah, I never really think that deeply about all those other lives. I’m just where I should be and my whole life has just been leading to this point. I just never think what could have been, just what is. Sound like you’re just where you should be too 😁

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      1. Back in the UK I suppose. There was a thing around 20 years ago where that was a definite possibility. I’m glad we’re not though but I would have just accepted it. As long as you have your most loved with you, doesn’t matter where you live.

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