50 Of The Most Insignificant Things That Shifted Realities For These People
Part of the magic of growing up is being able to look back and trace the impact of the decisions you made. In hindsight, tiny, seemingly unimportant choices often do have a cascading effect on our health, wealth, and happiness, even if we can hardly see it in the moment.
So one person wanted others to share the little, seemingly insignificant decisions that turned out to have a far-reaching impact on their lives. From meeting the right person during a chance stop at a restaurant to quitting smoking, netizens share their stories. So get comfortable as you scroll through and upvote your favorite tales. And if you’re feeling introspective, feel free to share your own experiences below.
I went to prison for a robbery. I did it. I was a drug addict. After almost 5 years in, at a work center, I got a write-up which would make me stay in for a few months longer. The warden offered a deal if I would paint a mural at a local high school of their mascot, they'd forgive the writeup. I had always been good at drawing (they knew that which is why they asked) but had never done a mural. I figured out how to scale it up in my head and did it. I got out about 6 months later and made it my career. I'm now married, happy, and fully booked until summer of next year for work, owning my own business. In September, I will have been out for 10 years. I also hid my initials in the high school mascot mural.
I chose to be nice to everyone in high-school, even the kids people thought were weird. F****d my life up pretty bad 10 years ago and recently got a call asking if I wanted to train as a software developer by one of those kids. I was frying chicken in a gas station for scraps. Dude told me he remembered me being smart and into that stuff and knew I could learn fast
Life is hard sometimes so just be excellent to each other, you never know what kind of impact you can have.
I broke my hand playing soccer in high school (fell, landed awkwardly). Consequently, all I could do for gym class was walk a loop around the track the entire class period until my cast came off. A girl had a cast on her broken finger (hers got accidentally closed in a car door), so she walked with me every day, and we talked and hit it off.
20+ years later we’re married with a couple of kids.
When the average person thinks about a small change, it tends to be a new restaurant to check out or perhaps slightly changing up their morning routine. Mathematicians and meteorologists break it down even further. It’s very possible that you have already heard about the “butterfly effect,” the idea that if a butterfly flapped its wings in, for example, Brazil, a tornado would form in Texas.
An older variant instead mentioned a housefly, while a more “tested” alternative included a gull. Mathematician Edward Norton Lorenz wrote “One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a seagull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the seagulls.”
Playing wow, I picked druid.
Ended up loving playing a healer.
Decided to become a nurse IRL.
Still like being on the healing team.
Getting a cat. I feel like she has done a lot of positive things to my psyche, against my loneliness, and also helped my mother. Cat sure turned the home into a comfy place.
Saw an absolutely gorgeous guy on a “dating” app. He was absolutely stunning, and so far out of my league . Normally I would never have messaged someone so obviously attractive but I felt I needed to tell him that I thought he was the most attractive person I’d seen online.
We’ve been together 11 years, married for 7, and I’ve never been happier.
Oh and he thinks I am the hottest thing on legs, so that’s a huge bonus.
While the butterfly effect generally is used to exemplify how time and chaos take the smallest action and blow it up over time, it can be easier to picture it in one’s own life. Take a savings account with compounding interest and do some back-of-the-napkin math to see how much you could have made if you left an extra hundred in it each month last year. If you feel a pang of unhappiness, you aren’t alone, regret is a painful emotion.
My new desk job’s internet filter stopped me from going to my favorite websites. It didn’t block Boardgamegeek.com, however, so I ended up spending my downtime at work researching board games, game designers, and publishers. I read about a game I couldn’t find a copy of and put together a version of how I thought it might play. Later I found out I was totally wrong about how that game worked, but I preferred my version of the game. Yada yada yada, I’m an award-winning board game designer now.
Took the wrong train in a new city to a job a minimum wage job that I didn't want but needed at the time. Asked a random guy for directions when phone GPS still kind of sucked.
He happened to be going in the same general direction. We rode a train together and nerded out on films we were into. He was an aspiring filmaker (very beginnings of aspirations), and I was just a film nerd without any post high school education or thought of "breaking into the industry." We ended up becoming roommates and collaborators eventually. Sold our first film to IFC like 2 years ago.
First month of uni, can’t wait to take faster bus home to take a dump and continue playing whatever. Cute girl I’ve helped with some computer tech class asks which bus I take as she thinks we live nearby, decide to “ugh, fine I’ll take the longer one”.
It’s eleven years later, quit drinking and smoking, have depression under control, finished two masters (was about to quit bachelors in the upcoming week), I’m petting our poodle, playing with our nine month old son while my super hot redhead, freckled, funnier than me, smarter than me, salt of the earth wife takes shower, and I’m asking myself how the duck I’ve got so used to this that I needed this post to get reminded how bloody unfairly lucky I’ve been, all thanks to deciding to hold that dump half an hour longer.
Thinking back to those pivotal moments can make us scream in frustration like Joseph Cooper trying to get his daughter's attention in “Interstellar.” As painful as it might be, we need to go through these emotions to accept and move on. “Being stuck in the past” is a film-psychology cliche, but it does reflect the real danger of not dealing with trauma or other negative emotions.
Nearly didn’t go to a blind date but he was my soulmate. I knew in a blink when I met him. Lasted 33 years and I still miss him…
I volunteered feeding the homeless at a local church years ago, now I’m in a senior position addressing homelessness for the city of Los Angeles.
Deciding to talk to someone who was angry at his results during a test in class (we were both 15M)
We became best friends incredibly quickly, having incredible fun together, wanted to start our rock band, hell he fell in love with a girl and I was heads over heels for her own best friend... what a crazy time!
But when died just two months after that, of course everything just crashed down. At the funeral, I was the only representative from high school with our French teacher, with whom he practiced theater. When she mentioned it to me, I proposed to take his place in the play that was being prepared for the end of the year...
What followed was an amazing adventure of two years of building back my self confidence, meeting incredible people, having an incredible time, which allowed me to end my highschool after my last play with the troupe, and receiving a thunderous round of applause after the eulogy I did at the end of said play - he was the most comedic person I've ever met, of course I asked for a celebration instead of a minute of silence!
Aimery, it's been 11 years already but I wouldn't be half the man I am without the few months we had together. Just like you I don't believe in life after death, but if there's one person I'd be dying to meet again, of course that'd be you, bloody moron! 😁
Of course, many of these stories are positive, like the various “meet cutes” of people being in the right place at the right time. While it might be just as cliche as being “haunted” by the past, a lot of relationships, both romantic and platonic, often happen because you simply bumped into a compatible person. From kindergarten to college dorms, life-long friendships can arise just by spending some time together.
Entered the green card lottery. Friend was trying to figure out how to do it, so I downloaded the instructions and completed an application to show them how. Since it was easier than asking them for all their info, I made a dummy application using my own info. When I was done I thought “meh, might as well” and dropped my application into the outgoing mail. Then forgot all about it. I was highly confused when, nearly a year later, I got a letter from the state dept.
I’ve been in the US for 20 years now, married, kids, the whole thing. Biggest change I ever made, and it was just a random 15-minute thing I did to help a buddy
I took a job in an Emergency Room doing insurance paperwork. I thought "Okay but what happens before they get to the hospital?" That exposure lead to a career as a 1st Responder. I never would have imagined I would be helping people in Emergencies been doing it every day for decades.
I didn't want to see my ex on my Instagram feed so I deleted the app thinking I'll install it after two days. A week went by and I forgot that I had to download Instagram again. Now it's been 2 years without IG and my mental state is in a much better place.
Interestingly, the term “meet cute” was actually coined by Hollywood screenwriters, although it no doubt reflects the reality of chance meetings leading up to romance. Part of the magic of such scenes is that we can very easily place ourselves in them, as a meet cute is just a chance meeting, not requiring foresight or ability. If you are interested in more small choices with lasting effects, Bored Panda has got you covered, check out our article on real-life “butterfly effect” stories.
Accompanied a friend to a wedding because she didn't want to show up without a "date." It was boring and tacky, and I was impatient to head to a bar afterward. But on the way back downtown from the wedding reception, my friend needed to stop by this block party and deliver a birthday present to her neighbor. I grudgingly agreed to go for a little while before continuing to the bar. On the way from the car to the party my friend casually mentions that'd she'd been meaning to introduce me to her neighbor, actually. I smelled a setup, but went along anyway. Two hours later, I'd completely forgotten about the bar and pretty much anything else as the neighbor and I had been excitedly talking to each other at the party, to the point of ignoring everyone around us. Our kid just started kindergarten earlier this month.
Me and 2 other coworkers decided to grab some dinner after our shift. One ended up cancelling, so I thought my other coworker would cancel too. We were both hungry, so we decided to still grab dinner together. We'd been coworkers for over a year and have always gotten along, but this dinner truly felt like a first date. It was so enjoyable and we talked so much that we didn't realize the restaurant had been closed and that the workers had been cleaning up around us (servers were too nice to interrupt our conversation). Him and I ended up falling in love soon after that. Been together for over 6 happy years and wouldn't change a thing.
Took an art appreciation course in college. Had a career that had nothing to do with art, but I've spent at least part of every holiday since then touring museums in different world cities, and various states and provinces in the US and Canada. It's given me so much enjoyment in life.
I was walking out the door of work one day. Phone rang and I decided to go back and answer it instead of leaving. Quick 30 sec call and I was out the door. Couple miles down the road was a bad multi car accident on a bridge. Could have been me.
I was doing online dating with no success and I was ready to give up. I almost canceled my date just out of pessimism but figured it was already it’s already scheduled I’ll just go and if it doesn’t work out I’ll just take a break from dating.
The date lasted about 8 hours and 15 years later we’re still together.
Watching YouTube Minecraft videos. It taught me English and I ended up educating myself and escaping a toxic and abusive situation in my parents' home
Grabbed a beer instead of going home early. I got offered a job when I was struggling to find a first job
A kid's birthday party I wasn't planning to go to, I changed my mind at the last second, met my husband there.
I had a blog where I couldn’t figure out some HTML code, so I emailed the blog of another person who had figured it and they sent me the code. They lived about 1,000 miles from me and had never spoken before. Four years later we’re married, bought a house, and have a child together.
On a night out I went to burger king and at the last second decided to get chicken nuggets with my burger instead of chips. I ate the burger but didn't feel like the nuggets by this point (and wished I'd gotten chips instead) so I asked the person opposite me on the bus if he wanted them (my exact words were 'ay lad do you want my chicken nuggets') he said yes and we got talking. That was 16 years ago and now we are married with a beautiful daughter.
Went to a bonfire, met a random person who diagnosed me with a serious illness that I immediately got treated for and now I’m living life healthier, happier and more fulfilled than ever before.
On Friday 1st August 1997, I was going to go straight home from work, but a colleague talked me into going to the pub for "a quick pint"
Two hours, a couple of shared joints & 4 pints later, I got on my pushbike & made it about a quarter of the way home before coming off at the bottom of a steep hill & nearly getting killed.
I was supposed to be going on a residential course the following Monday, but I was in hospital. I had to re-book onto another sitting, five weeks later, and 300 miles away.
And that's where I met my wife - who was living overseas at the time, but by coincidence was planning to move back to where she grew up - literally walking distance from where I was living at the time.
Not only did the accident cause me to meet the woman currently sitting next to me on the sofa, but forced me to completely reassess my life. I got my drinking & drug abuse under control (and have since gone sober sober), and got me off the self-destructive path I was on.
It took a random part time job out of desperation making wooden snowboard/skateboard racks. 12 years later I’m deeply imbedded in the woodworking industry and found a career. Didn’t see that coming.
Worked in a kindergarten during my gap years between high school and university (I didn't even plan to go at the time). A kid with speech and social issues happened to take a special liking to me, resulting in me ageeing to work closely with his speech therapist, despite only being the teachers assistant. This reignited my interest in language and made me apply to be a linguistics major. My high school grades made it a long shot, but it turns out that very year they tested out a new system of accepting 50% of students based on motivational essays, to try to combat a high drop out rate in linguistics. I made it in on that, they ditched it the next year cause it didn't work. I now have masters in Language Psychology and start teaching at the same university this semester. If I had applied literally any other year, my chances would have been like lottery odds.
Was at a conference and stepped outside for a smoke. Bumped into a friend of mine who introduced me to the man he was walking with. That man encouraged me to apply for an opening in his office and, six months later, he hired me.
It was the job that jumpstarted my career, changing my trajectory. And all because of a bad habit.
I ran to catch a train home for christmas and just caught it. Thought I saw a friend of my sister two waggons in front so I made my way through that full train and found him. He invited me to go for a beer with his friends in the new year. Out of curiosity I went and met a really cute guy in that group. I typed my number into his phone because I wanted to be obvious. That was almost ten years ago, we‘ve been married for four. It blows my mind that if I didn’t run for that train our wonderful daughter wouldn’t even exist.
Was heavily depressed for years, couldn't work, didn't dare to apply for jobs.
I wanted to make crispy pork skin roast for dinner.
Walked past a building with a little poster "We offer apprenticeships, become a geomatician!"
Googled the job, applied, got the apprenticeship.
Work offered psychological help, found a therapist, got a medication that worked.
I found a job I love and help I needed for my mental health, all because I wanted to buy some pork roast.
I stopped at a grocery store, and I saw a man standing next to his truck with a bunch of puppies. I approached him and ended up taking him my little angel of a dog.
He gave me her for free. ♡
Accepted an invite to some dudes team on Overwatch (videogame). Now I live on the opposite side of the country with him and we have two dogs and a Costco membership.
Started working at age 16. My supervisor suggested I sign up for “Profit Sharing”, a 401k precursor. Stayed with that company for 25 years, made a nice contribution to my retirement later in life.
I was flying to Costa Rica to go backpacking south from there, my sister told me to fly into Guatemala, I had to see it. So I did, and here I am still 10 years later, with a son and a life I never imagined.
2015, in Ukraine. Vinnytsia to be exact.
Went to shop to buy a bottle of water. No gas, no flavor..just a simple water bottle.
Ended up getting married with cashier who saw me a few times and was always curious to know what the f**k I'm doing in that part of the country.
Going to the gym. Now a year later my life has entirely changed. I think different, I live different, I eat different.
Scratched myself up in the field in ROTC training due to my own stupidity. **Debated whether to go to the medical tent, since it was super minor. I ultimately did**, and the cot next to me was a cadet from another school that was in a unit more in line with my career goals. The cadet got me an interview with the commander, and when I graduated and commissioned, I was assigned there. In the first few months, I met my now-wife, who was also new to the unit. Nearly two decades of marriage later, we’re both retiring and traveling the world together.
The decision to stop drinking. I wasn't addicted or anything and only drank occasionally. However, I got into a depression and a burn-out. When you are stripped of many joys in life, you automatically start seeking refuge and escape. You see how thin the line is between having a glass of wine to drinking yourself to unconciousness because the darkness is overwhelming. It would seem like the easy way out. While it didn't help me to get out of my depression in itself, I got out of it better because I stayed away from things that feed escapism.
It's better to be a recovering *depresso* without an addiction problem.
I had just moved to Florida from PA with my brother, and we decided to grab lunch at a restaurant we’d never been to before. Got to chatting with the waitress, explained we were new, etc. She brought over her manager & he offered me a job on the spot. Met a cute bartender and 10 years later, we’re married with a 5 year old. Live in a new big city together. Just jumped on the gravy train of life head first by picking that place to eat at.
21st December 2014. A girl I was crushing over at the time and had some casual flirting with, was going to a party, but having asked her out the day before and been turned down, I decided to sack the party, go see my family early. I headed home a day earlier than planned for Xmas. Was living in Glasgow, took the train from Queen Street Station. Got the 14:39 train back home with no issues.
Very next day on the news. Bin lorry had crashed into Queen Street station around half past 2 in the afternoon, driver had a heart attack and lost control of the vehicle and killed 6 people. The place where it crashed, I was walking by, with earphones on 24 hrs before.
So yeah I didn't die because a girl turned me down and I decided not to head to the same party. Life's relentless.
About 22 years ago I was fresh outta highschool and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I went out rollerblading one evening and I decided to go down this road that looked familiar. I noticed a house and thought "hey, that kinda looks like my buddy from HS's house," so I decided to knock.
Sure enough, it was his house. He was having a LAN party that weekend and invited me to come over, so I did. Ended up meeting this obnoxious kid who wouldn't leave me alone. Kid ends up becoming my best friend and shaping the direction of my life. He eventually convinces me to play World of WarCraft when it came out. Roughly 3 years later I met my now wife in WoW.
All because I decided to go up and knock on a door.
Checking out a new tea shop that opened up in my area. I became friends with the owner and she told me about a coding bootcamp, and less than a year later I had a great new career.
I'm terrible at Judo and dislocated someone's shoulder. Felt guilty so decided to learn First aid and found a course 40 mins from where I live. Met my wife there and I often think what if I didn't slip up whilst training...
Found a book by the name "God and the new physics" at my grandmother's place when I was 12. Now I finished a master's in physics.
Took an antibiotic for a possible infection and was perfectly healthy before. Ended up with permanent nerve damage at 24 years old and it turns out I never had an infection to begin with.
After completing 3 science degrees I wasn’t having a good time. Randomly decided to apply to get into medicine thinking that I’d never get in. Anyway, I’m a doctor now, love it and hate it but definitely changed my life for the better overall
Went for a jog even though I didn’t want to. Ended meeting a cute woman who was a bit of a motormouth but we had a lot in common. We ended up dating for about 4 years. We wanted different things and ended it but she’s still a fantastic friend.
Decided to relax my leg while trying to kick the ball, missed the ball and f****d my knee up. 2 years later still hurts
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