The Butterfly Effect, according to Wikipedia - In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
That’s a very complicated explanation. It confused me at first until I did a bit of further research. The Butterfly Effect, in layman's terms, is when a small action - sort of like a ripple in a pond - can have a much bigger effect than you initially realise. The original name came from the idea that action as small as a butterfly flapping its wings in Chicago can cause a tornado in Tokyo (shout out again to Wikipedia for that one).
Think about small changes you’ve made to your life, and how different things might be. Every action, big and small, has brought us to where we are today. I’m not the kind of person who likes to think about things on an existential scale. I’m too much of an anxious wreck for that - yet, the idea of the Butterfly Effect really got me thinking. Some of the minor decisions in my life have probably had massive effects on where I am today and who I am today.
For example, my mum - on a whim - decided to apply for a job as a receptionist at a company in 1996. There, she met the man she would marry and have three kids with (I’m the second one). I wouldn’t exist if she hadn’t made that decision. Those who believe in fate might think that they would have crossed paths no matter what, but I don’t personally believe in destiny. However, I do believe that everything happens for a reason.
Every decision I’ve ever made up until this moment has brought me here. Admittedly, I haven’t done much with my eighteen years so far but some of the major flag points in my life have come from whims and in-the-moment decisions. For example, I applied for an NCS program completely at random and without thought, and I met one of my best friends. My dad liked a Facebook page randomly for selling and buying in my local area, and that’s how we have our two dogs.
The Butterfly Effect isn’t always about your decisions - it can be actions beyond your control. Both good and bad things have brought you to where you are today and I believe - again, not by fate or destiny - that it’s where we’re meant to be. I’ve experienced some really crappy things and yet, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.
My parent’s divorce was something that deeply affected me. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with, and yet I’m stronger for it. Without going into details, some of the changes in my life made me who I am today. I’m better at dealing with abrupt changes. I’ve grown up and matured far quicker because of it. Again, I would never choose to deal with that life event and yet, there’s some tiny bit of silver on the otherwise grey, stormy rain cloud.
I wouldn’t have chosen to be bullied either. I used to be very shy and I’d let people walk over me. At some point among all that chaos I learnt to stand up for myself. I learnt to have a backbone and put people in their place when I needed to. It took a few years but again, I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I speak up now and I don’t let anyone push me the wrong way - I’m tougher because of the crappy hand that life dealt me.
Bad things are going to happen in life. You can really only roll with the punches but I think the Butterfly Effect can change the way you see it. A bad thing has happened to you and yes, it sucks. You’re allowed to wallow and be sad for as long as you need, but when you’re ready to move on, you can look at it in a new light: that bad thing can change everything for the better. Whether it’s majorly bad or minorly bad, the later effect it’s going to have on you might make you who you are today.
Take a step back and look at things - where you are now and who you are now. Maybe things don’t feel great. Maybe you made a bad decision and you’re feeling the effects of it. I’ve stressed a lot in this article that I don’t believe in fate, but I sure as hell believe everything happens for a reason and that every decision we’ve ever made will eventually bring us to the place that we need to be. Hang in there.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.