Have You Ever Played The What-if Game?

Okay, so maybe the question is too obvious and deserves a “Well, duh!” answer. We’ve all played the What-if game. In fact, we’ve been playing it since the day our brains were smart enough to think or the first time we did a stupid mistake that had unforeseen repercussions.

What if I got married too young? What if I had stopped smoking when I was in my twenties? What if I lived in the suburbs instead of the city? What if I didn’t buy that stupid motorcycle and just saved the money? What if Vanilla Ice never got sued for copying the intro of Ice Ice Baby?

And a thousand more what if questions in our lifetime.

I’m taking a page here from my favorite sportswriter, Bill Simmons. In his book, The Book of Basketball, he gives the all-time what-if questions that have surrounded the NBA. Some examples are – What if Kevin Durant was drafted first before Greg Oden? What if Kobe signed with the Clippers back in 2004? Etc, etc.

Anyway, aside from pondering the numerous questions about basketball (I couldn’t get over the what-if question about Michael Jordan. He shouldn’t have played with the Wizards!), of course I thought of my own what-if questions, but moreover, I thought of the whole idea of the what-ifs in our lives. What-ifs are questions that we like to ponder on but they can also leave us with a sense of helplessness. No matter what we do, the things we have done are in the past and they’ll stay in the past.

Nonetheless, this is my blog and I want to play the what-if game!

Personal What-Ifs

1)   What if I didn’t study in ADMU and didn’t choose Psychology as my course?

In the Philippines, these are the top universities: Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), University of the Philippines (UP), and De La Salle University (DLSU). It’s up to debate who’s number 1 but that’s besides my point. Anyway, I only applied to two of them – ADMU and UP. Now, all my life I’ve been studying in ADMU. It’s the only school I know and all my family members have studied or are studying there. Even my dad teaches there. Obviously I wanted to get it in. I also applied to UP because I’ve always thought of it as a great school and I wasn’t dumb enough to apply to only one college.

As fate would have had it, I fortunately got in to ADMU and failed UP’s entrance test (my math scores were horrendous). Looking back, what if I did pass UP? Would I have had a more difficult decision in choosing one school over the other? We’re talking about a whole different environment, education, and social life! And what would I have studied there? I remember the reason why I picked Psychology. Well, it was listed in the brochure and I thought it would be cool if I learned it. That’s it. What if I was more adventurous and picked um… Computer Engineering or let’s say Creative Writing? My career would be totally different! I think I also applied for Psychology in UP, I can’t remember though.

Anyway, if I did decide to study there: my views on our country and the government will be different, I would have met some of the great professors of our generation, and would have probably done a lot of crazy stuff. As for the other things that make me who I am, I don’t think it will all be too different. I’ll probably get into the UP Pep Squad, probably surround myself with similar college friends as in ADMU, and most probably enjoyed college just as much. I believe that a perfect combination of “Nature and Nurture” will be put into play here. On many ways, my life will be different, but at the same time, I think it will still be strikingly similar because of who I am.

2)   What if lived in the 1920’s or the 1950’s?

Growing up, I’ve always wondered what it would be like if I lived in either in the 1920’s or in the 1950’s or any period in between. I like the clothes, cars, music, mood, and the environment. I can go Boardwalk Empire with my style of clothes plus you can give me a 1958 Edsel Corsair or a Cadillac to drive in.

Plus, I think life was much simpler back then. Of course they weren’t thinking that life was simpler in those days and we can already say that now since we live in a chaotic 2014. We’re talking about the Prohibition era and the post World War II era, not really perfect times but hey, I like them cars and clothes!

3)   What if I knew really how to sing, dance, or act?

Sigh. I wish I knew how to do at least one of the three. But alas, I was kept from having these God-given talents. It’s not that I’ll become a pop star or anything. It’s just the ability of doing anything you want and being whoever you want to be. For instance, I love music and it would be nice if I could sing John Mayer’s version of Free Fallin’.  Just one time yo, just one time!

As you think of your own personal what if questions, let me suggest that they shouldn’t revolve any of the following:

a)   Women – (Or if you’re a girl, then men) Relationships carry too many attachments, feelings, and old memories. Rehashing them won’t do you any good and you’ll just end up over thinking about everything. Not unless if you truly believe that she’s the “one.” Then you can go Nic Cage mode calling out Tea Leoni, making a last ditch effort in the airport to have her back in The Family Man. (Btw, this is the ultimate what if movie and second chances) But I gotta say, we really love to play the what-if game with girls right? Yikes.

b)   Jobs – Thinking whether or not you’ve picked the right job or not has its limits. On one hand, you’re allowed to think about it and then actually doing something about it – either stay or quit. However, you can’t allow yourself to think too much if you stayed too long already or haven’t really done anything with your life. I guess you’re there for a reason.

c)    Spontaneous decisions – We’ve all done quite a few of these. As long as they don’t involve drugs, being pregnant, or killing anyone, then you don’t have to play the what-if game with regards to spur of the moment decisions.

Below are a bunch of other what ifs that I’d like to share:


1)   What if the Philippines remained under American rule for a couple of more years?

2)   What if we never did the whole People Power movement?

3)   What if we stopped making stupid movies? (To my readers from other countries, the Philippines does produce outstanding films. However we also have a knack of making pretty awful and “what the hell were you thinking?” kind of movies)


1)   What if we actually knew the truth about the assassination of JFK?

2)   What if the Catholic Church suddenly allowed women to be Pope?

3)   What if firemen, police officers, and teachers were paid more than athletes, movies stars, and musicians?


1)   What if Ben Affleck never made that movie with Jennifer Lopez and we’ll always think of him as the other guy in Good Will Hunting?

2)   What if the Transformers series was actually made to scare away potential terrorists threats to America as they showed U.S. military strength and ingenuity in all of the movies? (Same can be said with Battleship)

3)   What if Adam Sandler made more serious movies like Reign Over Me and Click or focus on real comedy like in the Billy Madison days rather than oh I don’t know… Jack and Jill??!!


1)   What if Kurt Cobain never died?

2)   What if Michael Jackson was actually found guilty of child molestation, would we view him differently when he died?

3)   What if Taylor Swift stopped singing about love songs and at the same time hooking up with guys and dumping them like they were pairs of shoes?


Life is full of what ifs. It’s just the way life works. There are questions we wonder about the world and more importantly there are questions that we have to face in our personal lives. As you look back and play the what-if game, try not to over think or fill yourself with regret. You can also play it going forward i.e. “What if I decide to become a better person starting today?” What ifs are about the past as much as they are about the future. In any case, it’s just a game but don’t try to lose.


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