what if…

Last night, I was perusing LinkedIn, and I looked over at the “people you may know” box. I was taken aback when I recognized the name of a woman who interviewed me in 2002, while I was still a senior in college looking to land my first job in New York City.

I won’t say the name of the company, but we’ll just say that it rhymes with Shmartha Glewart Bliving Zomnimedia.

Anyhow, the woman who interviewed me had a very unique name that I won’t soon forget, and it was my first real REAL job interview, so it was a pretty huge deal and a memory that will always stay with me. We won’t even talk about how weird it is that this woman with whom I share no LinkedIn connections or networks showed up as someone I may know (is Big Brother watching??), but our paths indeed crossed years ago, and it struck me that the last eight years may have panned out very differently had I gotten that job. (Call it a Sliding Doors moment.)

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You see, I don’t know if I actually would have been offered the job, because some things happened at that company that caused a company-wide freeze on hiring (Shmartha got herself in some trouble with the law on the day of my second interview — something about “insider trading”), so things didn’t quite work out. While I had always intended on moving to NYC after graduation, I no longer had a great lead to get me there, so I moved back home for a little while to figure out my plan. In time, I settled into my first job in Philadelphia (a temporary design position while the company’s art director was on maternity leave), and realized that maybe this was where I was supposed to stay. Over time, New York seemed less and less appealing to me, and I decided to continue calling Philly home, after all.

A year later, after the temporary position had ended, I found myself choosing between two job offers that I received. It was an exciting feeling to be wanted by not one but two prospective employers, but it was also a slightly terrifying decision to be faced with. I ultimately chose the job that offered a higher salary and was closer to home, but it became a job I disliked very much. I only stuck around for five months, but at that job, I made a friend named Tara. And a month after I left that job, Tara had a Halloween party where I met a boy. And, well, we all know how that worked out…

It’s funny to think what my life would look like today had things gone a little differently. What if Shmartha Glewart hadn’t gotten into some legal trouble? Would I have gotten the job in New York (and taken it)? Would I still be in New York now? Would I have eventually found my way back to Philly anyway? And if I had never gone to New York but instead accepted that second job offer in Philly with the lower-paying salary, would I have ever met Nick? Would our paths have eventually crossed even without that Halloween party?

I have a great life, and zero complaints. I know now that New York was never the place for me (though I love to visit), and I’m so pleased with how my choices have shaped my life and my career. It’s just funny sometimes to think, “what if…”

Do you have a lot of “what if…” moments?


  1. B/c of that maternity-leave job you took, I got a job w/ them b/c you were so fabulous and Smacks gave me a chance since she loved you :)

    PS LOVE that movie!

  2. always! things have a way of working themselves out… i was supposed to go to a state school for journalism but my high school guidance counselor misplaced my transcripts and i ended up in savannah instead. i should track her down and thank her for her incompetence…

  3. @Dinny, I’m pretty sure your general awesomeness would have secured that internship/job without any help from me regardless ;) But isn’t it funny how things like that work out??

  4. Yes…it is truly amazing (in hindsight) to see where the choices we make take us. They all brought me to where I am now of course, and I couldn’t be happier!

    What a crazy coincidence on LinkedIn, and I had no idea you interviewed there! So cool, so crazy…we’ll have to chat about that! :)

  5. @colleen, that’s funny – I can’t picture you being a journalist!! You were born to be an artist, in my opinion. I’m glad that guidance counselor screwed up!

    @Susan, what, you’ve heard of Shmartha Glewart Bliving Zomnimedia? ;)

  6. Crazy! I got my first real (and so far only) job for strange reasons. My grandparents paid for my first semester of college as my HS graduation present, while discussing this with their financial advisor he asked questions about what I was going to school for, when they said architecture he mentioned he had a friend at an architecture firm. The next summer he gave my g’rents the name of ‘his friend’ who happened to be a principal at the firm. I interned there for 3 summers and then returned after college. I love the people I work with, and for and consider myself lucky to have the job I do. If I hadn’t landed here (in a somewhat niche market) I would likely have been laid off in the past year like the majority of the people I graduated with in my field. It is likely that I would not be here if my grandparents were not so generous –

  7. I had a what if moment. I was obsessed with this guy since I was 17 and he liked the attention I gave him, but as soon as he liked another girl he blew me off. When I graduated college, I started working at a new resturant as a server because it was close to this guy’s house. When I was training, I started liking this other guy – a chef. One night, my old crush shows up to the restaurant and looked interested in me again. I chose to blow him off for the chef. I never spoke to the old crush again, which was huge for me! Now I’ve been with the chef for 7 years and we’re engaged! I cyber stalked the old crush of course on facebook and found out he got married too. I think things are just meant to be sometimes.

  8. omg. This is such a timely disucssion. My boss, colleague and I were talking about “what if moments” and my boss dropped the ultimate one: He was booked on Flight 93 on 9/11/01. His plans changed a day before and he was annoyed that he had to change. In retrospect, what if the non-annoying (at the time) had happened and he’d gotten on that flight? He has two sons that were young, an awesome wife and a great career. Never mind the fact that I wouldn’t be touched by his existence.
    That story, and now yours, further indicates to me that life is about choices, sure, but sometimes you have to go with it and trust that in the end, you will be delivered to the correct address.

  9. Wow! Crazy train of events leading you to the life you have now. I’m not going to pretend I’m not jealous you had an interview with that company. ;) I think we all want to work for Shmartha.

    I think LinkedIn sometimes pulls from emails within your email account because it keeps recommending a girl I sublet from as a connection and we have no other connections. Very strange.

  10. My husband and I were just talking about our “what if” moments this weekend. We were reflecting on our relationship because it was our first wedding anniversary. What if he never had come to work at the same restaurant. What if our boss had never suggested that I ask him to my senior prom? I’d like to say that I still would have found him, but who knows if we would’ve ended up together in the end.

  11. At my age, WAAAAYYY to many to count. I try not to think about them too much. I could have been living in a totally different place (on a completely different coast) or doing something totally different career-wise. I’m not sure if I would be married to the man I am now or living back home in New York. That being said, even though there are parts of my life that I currently not happy with, I am very happy to be married to my husband and living in Brooklyn. Along with my family, those are the two things that I feel most happy about right now. I guess it did work out for the best.

  12. @Dinny @claremontroad and if you two hadnt been so wonderful, i wouldnt be here now! :)

  13. Yes! I think about this all the time!! What if I’d stayed in Boston after college instead of moving back to Texas? Where would I be career-wise, marriage-wise, etc? It’s so crazy to think about!

  14. Something really similar happened to me… I interviewed for a job at Freddie Mac, got called back for a second interview, a week and a half after the second interview I started to wonder what happened. Three days later I opened the paper and found out EXACTLY what happened.

    I have no idea where I’d be now if my second interview had been a week earlier.

  15. I have a theory (totally unconfirmed) on why this occurs on Linkedin, Facebook etc… When you search for someone and attempt to view their profile on a social networking site, you may appear on their “People you may know” list. I’ve had a few way too “random to be random” people appear on my list, and I assume that’s because they’ve searched for me.
    (And I’ve also had a “friend” of someone I searched for appear on my list!).
    Just a theory…

  16. OMG brooke, I lived by this movie for most of my early 20’s ha!Everything happens for a reason!

  17. I LOVE that movie. Adore it. Just realized I never bought a DVD to replace the old VHS… must get around to that.

    I’ve thought about this concept a lot… What if I hadn’t gone to grad school where I did, etc. etc. So many little changes could have led to me never meeting my husband.

  18. I think about this all the time. What if I hadn’t come home before I went to grad school. What if I had taken the job at Bates Groundation (I can be sneaky too) instead of going to grad school. Everything could have been different.

  19. Sliding Doors, now that’s a chick flick a guy could really get into. And I wonder how that same movie is perceived as one moves through life. Do people view it differently as their life unfolds. Brooke, I have you by 22 years and have seen that movie a few times from variety of perspectives.

    The movie made me realize I only have the present to make an impact. When i was in high school in NYC i was a messenger on Wall Street primarily worked in the World Trade Center. Fast Forward 30 years and I’m watching the towers collapse while on a business trip in LA. I was scheduled to be on a plane that night. I didn’t and drove home from LA to MN where I live now. It changed my life, I started an agency and spent a bunch of the last 9 years with my 5 kids. Now ages 20-12

    I thought I wanted to be a big self-important (by title only) jet setter traveling the world. Now, I coach basketball, make cupcakes and think what I thought was real, really isn’t right now.

    Funny, maybe my way of looking back is through “bumpy flight” searches. Thanks for responding and this appropriately timed post.

    All the best.

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