Thinking is essential, yet not often executed efficiently by people despite its use. Overthinking, to the contrary, is common in humans even though it does nothing but to waste one’s time. I myself daily struggle with the ‘what if, what ifn’t’ dilemma. It’s a useless occupation of the brain, as I will never get an answer to whichever concern I raise.  

Picture a person, say a young boy full of potential, in a relationship with a beautiful talented woman. He decides to cook for his lady and goes out to do groceries, a simple daily chore. But he forgets to buy milk, which seems insignificant until he feels like a cup of coffee after dinner. When he decides to go out, just to buy milk, he accidently gets hit by a bullet that was meant for the drug dealer he happened to pass by. His girlfriend, who was predestined to become the first person to find a cure for Alzheimer, was so heartbroken that she quit her study in medicine. The drug dealer who made it out alive grew up to become a notorious serial killer. It’s tragic. If only the boy didn’t forget to buy milk or decided against having a cup of coffee… Every day I come home safely from work wondering what would’ve happened if I didn’t take the wrong turn-off or remembered to buy groceries on the way. Tragedy is always lurking somewhere and fate can find you at random times. As a result, I overthink every cup of coffee I have and outweigh all possible scenarios that could result from my decision to go to Starbucks. What if? 

I strongly believe that the modern term FOMO originates from our habit of ‘what iffing’ everything. We fear missing out on excitement or opportunities, due to which we obsessively spend our time socialising, drinking, travelling and the beyond. How can we stay at home when we don’t know what would happen if we didn’t? But when we do go out, there is a high risk of ending up with regrets. We get robbed, wake up next to an undesirable stranger, or make such a fool out of ourselves that we end up losing our job. If only we wouldn’t have gone out… 

This dilemma goes far beyond personal concerns. Little moments in time have occasionally altered the turn of events drastically. Human history hasn’t been a particularly cheerful story, and many instances that changed our world forever were based on accidents, misunderstandings or last-minute decisions. The Berlin Wall was broken down because a German politician misspoke, the American invasion of Cuba failed because the Pentagon forgot to take time zones into account, and atomic bombs were dropped on Japan because president Truman misinterpreted a single letter. 

And it gets worse. A certain Franz Ferdinand was pretty much killed by coincidence after just surviving an attempted assassination. His death triggered a chain of events that eventually led to World War I. Even though the war ended, some 13 million deaths later, Europe was destined with economic failure for decades to come. The resulting poverty allowed a stage for dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini, who succeeded at starting another World War and even more blood shedding. When it all finally seemed over there was hardly any time for a tea party, as the aftermath soon led to the Cold and Vietnam War. The complete lack of human dignity or decency during these battles gave rise to hippies, who were desperately making love in hopes of creating peace while singing along to John Lennon, who as a result also got killed. So John Lennon practically died because Franz Ferdinand made a poor life decision back in the 1900s. What ifn’t? 

In fact, most tragic deaths could have been avoided if it wasn’t for one person making one wrong decision somewhere down the line. The Titanic tragedy could have been avoided if one soul didn’t neglect to bring the key to the locker that contained binoculars, which means a whole generation of young girls would’ve grown up without a poster of Leonardo di Caprio on their wall. To the contrary, a previous generation of young girls missed out on perving at James Dean because he crossed the wrong intersection at the wrong time. And if Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens would not have gotten on an aeroplane on the 3rd of February in 1959, music would never have died. 

Despite the many tragic losses of lives, there have also been many tragic births. Perhaps history would’ve been spared of Pablo Escobar if there wasn’t an electricity cut on that one cold winter night. And who knows, Ted Bundy might’ve never been conceived if his mother didn’t drink her way through a bottle of Scotch that fateful day. Perhaps Justin Bieber would’ve been talented if his mum stayed off prescription drugs during pregnancy. Maybe Paris Hilton would’ve been intelligent if her father ejaculated a second earlier and Harvey Weinstein handsome if his father ejaculated a second later. 

The dilemma is endless. What if Muslim’s brewed beer and ifn’t Russions drank vodka? What if Oprah was white and ifn’t Michael Jackson was black? What if Bill Gates decided to become a dentist and ifn’t Shakespeare became a writer? What if Trump’s brains were shot out his skull and ifn’t Kennedy’s were? What if I would go to bed now and stop overthinking? But what if I go to bed and miss a ones-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could redefine my future? Then again, what if I didn’t go to sleep and end up being so tired tomorrow that I make an essential mistake that would drastically change my life for the worse? Only one thing is certain: it’s all a little bit worrisome and very much pointless.