"Almost Every Aspect Of My Life Can Be Traced Back To This": People Over 50 Are Recalling Their "Butterfly Effect" Moment That Ended Up Completely Changing Their Life

When we're younger, we may make decisions that we think are small but actually change our lives in great ways. So I asked the BuzzFeed Community: "If you're an adult over 50, what was an early, small decision you made that actually impacted you later in life?" And a lot of their answers are incredibly amazing. Here's what they had to say below.

1."In the '80s, the company I worked for was put out of business by their lender (bank). I worked for the bank while they sold off the assets, and weeks later, I was told on a Friday that everything had been sold off, and I was no longer needed. The following Monday was a state holiday, so I could not go to the unemployment office. I went to the old company office where I had been working instead of choosing to sleep. (There was nothing else to do.)"

Retro computer with code on the screen sitting on a wooden desk, surrounded by speakers, a keyboard, and various electronic components

2."This wasn’t really a small decision, but when I was 19, I followed my boyfriend to another university so I wouldn’t lose him. Instead, I met my future husband in the registration line (yes, that was a thing). He stood behind me as we went from table to table, even going so far as to make sure that he was in my philosophy class. We were married 18 months later. We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary in June. Following my boyfriend was a stupid decision, but looking back, I see that it was the best decision of my life.

—Danna, 71, Texas

3."Choosing where to go to college. I narrowed it down between NDSU and USD. NDSU informed me I still had some paperwork to fill out, and USD said I was accepted and that I was good to go. I decided to go to USD out of laziness. I ended up meeting my best friend and moving to Sioux Falls, where I met my husband. Looking back, if I had been completely accepted to both universities, I would have gone to NDSU as there are some things about that university that are better. However, as I sit here writing this, rocking my twin girls to sleep (children number four and five), I'm incredibly grateful that I was lazy."

A large, rectangular building with a grand entrance, surrounded by trees and a large open lawn. A paved pathway leads up to the building
James_gabbert / Getty Images

4."It was my first night at a part-time job I had taken to help pay my way through college. The shift started at midnight, and my job consisted of unloading packages from inside a container onto a conveyor belt as fast as possible. The packages could sometimes weigh as much as 50 pounds each, and I was a skinny guy that weighed all of 125 pounds. It was also a hot evening inside a building that had no air conditioning, and my supervisor consistently kept yelling, 'Faster, faster!' Mid-shift, I decided the job wasn’t for me and wavered between walking off the job or finishing the shift. I decided to complete the shift and simply never return again. Just then, I stepped out of the container I was unloading as a manager was walking by."

"He stopped and asked me what college I was enrolled in. When I told him, he said that was where he had graduated from and then said, 'Follow me.' He then yelled down the belt at my supervisor and said, 'Hey, I’m taking him!' We walked a little bit to a different location in the building, which was situated at the end of a conveyor belt. He said to that supervisor, 'Hey, here’s a new guy for you,' then shook my hand and walked away. My new job, in one night, went from something I could not physically do to a job that I could do.

From there, I eventually worked my way up the seniority ladder, moved into their airline division, which allowed me to jump seat on their aircraft, and ended up in Florida, where I eventually relocated and built a life.

My life would be so drastically different had I decided to quit on the spot and walk away. I literally owe everything that I have in my life to this one manager, whose name I never knew."

—David, 61, Florida

5."When I was 21, I was struggling in university and considering dropping out. My parents were splitting up, and I was really falling apart. One Friday night in February, my buddies and I were debating where to go out partying. Choice A was to a huge club where members of the local professional hockey team hung out and Choice B was to a smallish University hang out owned by a couple of alumni. We decided on B. I met a lovely girl and got her number."

A person pours rose wine from a bottle into a glass in a wine-tasting room with wine bottles on the wall behind them

6."I didn’t go to a concert. That turned out to be the Station nightclub bar fire that night in Providence, RI. So many people lost their lives. Pyrotechnics from the band set on fire and burned the building to the ground with no sprinkler system."

—Anonymous, Massachusetts

7."I pushed hard to get hired at a retail job when 17. The person who hired me after I pestered for a month wound up being very important to me. At the time, it was just a retail job. I attended school, worked at a different job, and got married. About 13 years after I was hired, I wound up adopting a dog from my former manager. Small world! Marge was a great dog, and it would’ve been enough. However, a year after I adopted Marge, my wife of seven years revealed she was having an affair and left me. I was devastated, but I took Marge and set about rebuilding."

A small white dog sits on a green couch between two blue pillows by a window

8."When I was 18, I made a poor decision to go along with what some friends were doing, which turned into being required to do community service. That community service turned into a summer job throughout college, working with people with disabilities. This resulted in me choosing a lifelong, rewarding career supporting people with disabilities in various roles."

—Anonymous, 54, Pennsylvania

9."Life is filled with butterfly effects. I can think of at least a dozen. For example, I was on a bike tour in Australia in my early 20s and got too drunk in the small town I had stopped in to camp out. I decided to take a day off there. That next night, I met two Aussies in the same pub and yucked it up with them for hours. We have now been best friends for almost 40 years, and one of them ended up marrying a good friend of my wife's."

Sydney Opera House with large white sail-shaped roofs on the waterfront, under a partly cloudy sky, with a ferry boat moving in the water near it
Castigatio / Getty Images

10."After a terrible year teaching home economics, I assumed I would never teach again. A friend asked me to take a part-time job as an assistant in her preschool classroom. I fell in love with preschool! I have retired after teaching for 35 years, with 20 years in Special Needs preschool. I still miss the kids."


11."I decided to try out for volleyball in 9th grade, but I had never played. From that small decision, I made the team, was lucky to be a state champion for three years, went to college on a volleyball scholarship, found a solid group of friends that have lasted for 30+ years, coached volleyball for ten years, and met my wife from an adult women’s volleyball league. In all honesty, almost every aspect of my life can be traced back to my relationship with the game of volleyball."

The image shows the shadows of two people playing soccer on a field, with one kicking the ball and the other running. The image is used in a Rewind article

—Anonymous, 54, Connecticut

Stanislaw Pytel / Getty Images

12."I went to therapy. It changed my life for the better. I was fortunate to find a clinic that had a sliding scale based on income. At the time, I paid $5 a week to see a counselor, and that $5-a-week counselor helped me a lot."


13."During the summer after high school, I worked for the city as a garbage man. It paid well, so many other guys in our town worked there over the summer to save money for college. A friend from another high school in the city told me about a graduation party being held by a kid with whom I played Little League baseball and told me I should go to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in years. On the day of the party, I drove across town to the party, but when I got there, it didn’t seem like anyone was home. I felt a bit like a fish out of water attending anyway, so I drove by the house with the intent of heading home. But something inside me said, 'No, just go knock on the door.'"

A hand is knocking on an old green door with a vintage brass door knocker shaped like a man's face

People over 50, tell us the small decision you made that impacted your life in a big way in the Google Form or comments below: