Do you ever dream about the life you wished you lived?

A few Saturdays ago, my friends and I spent the day idly talking about our current life situations over a feast of take-out Indian food. I talked about how my husband and I recently got ourselves gaming consoles to de-stress (his was a Nintendo Switch; mine a Playstation 4), while my other two girl friends raved about this Japanese bathhouse they went to. Then, we dispersed and reconvened to continue our chat over cupcakes, visit bookstores, watch the Yayoi Kusama documentary, eat dinner, and unwind over delicious drinks.

When we got to the second bar that evening, one of my friends told us about this movie called Yesterday, the premise is about a world where The Beatles and their music never existed. What causes The Beatles’ sudden non-existence is a brief worldwide blackout of sorts, which wipes them out of the world and from everyone’s memory, except for Jack Malik’s, the lead character who is a struggling British musician and avid Beatles fan. So, while life goes on without The Beatles’ existence, Malik has the knowledge of The Beatles’ music and produces them as his own.

I laugh when she tells us this because I have actually fantasized about the many what-ifs I’ve had in this lifetime. What if I thought of all the Spice Girls’ songs? Or All Saints’? Imagine what my life would’ve been if I composed all of Michelle Branch’s songs? These are actual scenarios that I would dream up as a teenager. I used to sing and play the guitar, and I would get caught up in a cloud of fantasy, imagining life if all my what-ifs came to play, strumming my guitar and singing “Everywhere.”

But coming back to reality, I find myself in the midst of good company; the candlelight casting a warm glow on everyone’s faces. We are laughing, cheering for the band, and are in good spirits. I couldn’t help but think of all the more realistic, sans pop-star-related what-ifs that could have happened if my life went a different route.

I know, I know, we should all practice contentment, mindfulness, and being present in the moment. But hey, it’s nice to dream up the what-could-have-beens every once in a while. I, for one, had a big dream once to move to the seaside and live a simple life by the shore; but I guess, the universe had other plans for me. I still find myself looking out in the distance, donning my “emo” hat, and wistfully imagining how my life would’ve played out if I abandoned the city life and took that one-way bus ride. I would dreamily wake up in the morning to the sound of the waves crashing—but will it be all-glamorous in the long run? I don’t really know.

Something I’ve been re-learning lately is the weight of responsibility, especially as an adult. I remember during my teenage years (and early 20s), I would have fits of whininess and just blame everything on the world. I blamed it on my family issues, on my persona, on my citizenship, but what I failed to recognize and realize was that I could’ve made better choices instead of reacting negatively to the cards I’ve been dealt with.

They say life is a mix of choice and luck. You can work your butt off every day to reach a goal that you might not be able to ever attain in your life (true story). On the other hand, you can have all the opportunities knocking on your door, and you can still choose not to grab hold of any of them. So what’s the solution, you ask? There isn’t any because everyone’s lives and journeys are all different.

So back to my teenage dreams of becoming Michelle Branch—had I thought of “Goodbye to You,” would I have succeeded in the same way she did? Probably not. Why? Because I am just not the type who sees myself as a musician in the long run.

I am where I am today as a result of luck—and many choices I’ve made and many opportunities I’ve turned down. When I think of the life I wished I lived when I was 16, to the life I am actually living now, I just smile to myself. At the end of the day, most of us just want to be happy and content. And for someone like me, that could be defined as quality time with my friends, laughing over take-out Indian food, watching art documentaries, and ending the day with a good drink. Perhaps, this is the life I’ve dreamed of all along.


Art by Ida Siasoco

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