I am one of over seven billion in this world, which is seemingly insignificant in the scheme of things. But, like a snowflake, I am unique. Unlike a snowflake, my uniqueness is not only determined by my initial formation, courtesy of my biological parents, it is also influenced by the environment and circumstances that have resulted from the different paths taken or chosen for me over the course of my 43 years.

The first major path chosen for me in my life was that of adoption. My biological mother was not in a position to take care of me in the way that she thought necessary, and my biological father was not in the picture. The trajectory my parents were on, not being able to conceive a child but wanting one nonetheless, led them to choose the path of adoption and ultimately to me.

I have often wondered where I would be had I not been adopted, or had I been adopted by another family, or had my biological mother chosen not to place me for adoption, or had my biological father been in the picture and taken me in. Would my life be vastly different? Would the core of my personality be the same or different? Would I be in the same profession? Would I be a more sensitive or less sensitive person?

I ended up in a middle-class family. My biological mother worked hard and is retired with seemingly modest means. My biological father became very wealthy. How would my life have been different in these various sets of circumstances? Most notably, what would my appreciation be for life if I had ended up growing up wealthy, like my three half-siblings? Would my perspective be distorted or would I be the same me that I always have been?

The second major path chosen for me in my life was that of being sexually abused by an older adoptive brother. I was eleven, and I had no idea what was happening. Although my childhood had been chaotic because of the way my two adoptive brothers tended to behave, I was fairly sheltered when it came to understanding anything about sex at all, let alone what was appropriate and what was not. It is a path I never would have chosen and wouldn’t wish on anyone, but it has ultimately led me on a relentless quest to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to other children.

Of course, my path in life has also been determined by the choices I have made for myself, but I wonder where I would be and what choices I would have made had these two major paths not been chosen for me in my life. I will never know, just as nobody else in the world will ever know where they would be had their cards been dealt differently.

Regardless, this is what makes life interesting. There are never any do-overs. Your path is your path, and your life unfolds sequentially based on what has happened before. And so I have come to accept my path. I cannot undo anything about it, but I can learn from what I have experienced and choose the rest of my path wisely. And while that’s not the most palatable approach or the one I might have chosen if I were to get a second chance to have had my life unfold in a different way, it is the only approach that stands in front of me, and it’s one I that I plan to make the most of.