Words by: Dilshi Perera Art by: Mei Li Tan
I remember laying in my bed one Sunday evening, in a cloud of nostalgia and feels after I stumbled across the latest Tiktok trend — the one where people look into the camera and name a certain phrase or habit that they do because somebody in their life, present or past, once did it. Not only was this the most poetic, heart-warming and wholesome content I had ever witnessed on the platform (and I may or may not have shed a few tears), but it really brings you back to the simple things in life.
I feel like this same sentimental, in-your-face emotion applies when you’re contemplating the meaning of life and the impact of everyone around you. I’m talking about those rainy days where you play some Frank Ocean, stare at the roof and think holy fuck what if I never did this, I would have never met this person or felt this experience and… cue the monthly existential crisis.
We’ve all heard of the butterfly effect, where one choice seamlessly leads to another. Almost too seamlessly… I’m side-eyeing you, universe. This concept alone screams main character energy — but when I take off the glitzy rose-coloured glasses and stop romanticising the littlest things in life, I can’t help but wonder if it’s all in my head?
A few weeks ago, I dived deep into this whole spiel while talking with a friend about the possibility of a range of multiverses. What if a little version of you was walking around in an alternate world, living a completely different life, all due to choices you could have once made? Despite what you may think, I was very much sober yet completely plagued by this newfound realisation of what my life could have been. It’s almost like a glass sliding door; on one side is the perfectly etched image of what your life could have been, and on the other side is a reflection of your current reality.
I imagined how different life would be if that breakup didn’t happen, if I never replied to that Insta DM, or heck, if I moved my life halfway across the world and danced around Europe with tonnes of fine men around me. So many possibilities were shining through that hypothetical sliding door, it was gleaming at me… it seemed so transparent and within reach. But the truth is that it’s impossible to break through that barrier, no matter how much I may have wanted to in that moment.
After all, you can’t change the past.
But listen: this is no time to spiral, because although European men are gorgeous and the thought of a breakup still makes me wince, I wouldn’t change my decisions or life for the world.
So, pull yourself out of that rabbit hole, dust yourself off and sit down to read about two of my sliding doors — because damn it, this is a beautiful concept.
UDLs & Uh Ohs
The main thing that jumps out at me when I think about the many (slightly disappointing) life choices I’ve made is my ‘sweet sixteen’ era. This was the very start of my alcoholism (just kidding) and it introduced me to a world where seriously fun times had equally serious consequences. I know we’ve all seen that text post that reads, “you ever said yes to a last-minute plan and it’s the best night of your life?”.
That was me!
Except it wasn’t necessarily a night out at the clubs, given my foetus-like age, and ‘the best night of my life’ might be a slight exaggeration. You would think going to a private school would mean that, as students, we were high-achieving and ambitious — but the only thing we were truly excelling at was beer pong. Weekend after weekend, each sweet sixteenth was rowdier than the next, which meant that I was constantly dancing ‘til my feet hurt and drinking way too many mixed drinks. It wasn’t until I projectile-vomited in a Batman limo (don’t even ask) that I realised the lecture-and-a-half from my parents wouldn’t be worth it. Not to mention the ghastly hangover 一 I wish I could shake my past self and tell her that binge drinking ain’t it. In an ideal world, my 16-year-old self would’ve been studying algebra, and I wouldn’t have lost as many brain cells as I did. But hey, what’s some risk without reward, right?
Monash & Marriage
When I first stepped foot into Monash as a fumbly first-year, I was a completely different person: shy, awkward and afraid. Over the years though, I mustered some confidence and slowly came up with a little system to make friends. Just look for someone that is similar to you. Although this may seem obvious, it was actually hard to find someone who had obnoxious false lashes with kind eyes. Throughout the years I made many sacred friends, but nothing would beat my story with Tara.
I sat next to her on the first day of my second year. False lashes, check; kind eyes, check; she even smiled at me when I walked in! After class, we decided to have lunch, and we hit it off straight away. Three years later she asked me to be her bridesmaid, and I couldn’t be more grateful. And speaking of false lashes, that’s exactly how I met my dear friend Tiffany Forbes (editor of this magazine) in class. It’s funny to think that if I hadn’t sat next to her smiley self that day, you wouldn’t even be reading these words. Crazy, huh?
I guess life really just is a beautiful, messy mosaic of experiences, with people and memories that make you into the person you are today. Every life choice has led you to where you are now — even picking up this magazine! (And aren’t you glad you did?)
Next time you’re looking through a sliding door, make sure to not look too intensely. Because what really matters is already staring back at you: yourself.