People Are Sharing The Small Events That Led To Giant Life Changes, And I'm Starting To Believe In The Butterfly Effect

·15 min read

Recently, we rounded up stories about the butterfly effect in people's lives.

"I turned right down a hallway I'd never been down before instead of taking my usual exit. Saw a job posting. Got the job. Met a girl at said job. 30 years together this July. 2 grown daughters. Right instead of straight out the door did that"

Now, in case you don't know what the butterfly effect is, it basically means that small or even insignificant events can cause much bigger effects down the line.

BBC America

The term was coined by MIT professor Edward Lorenz, who suggested that a single flap of a butterfly's wing could eventually cause a tornado.

Well, a ton of people commented their own butterfly effect stories in the comments, so we're back with another round! Here are 26 more stories of either the butterfly effect, or any other instance where one small event or choice either inadvertently caused or prevented a MAJOR life change.

Yeah, yeah, so not every one of these is a perfect example of the butterfly effect, as y'all pointed out in the comments of the last post. Still — they're good stories!

Note: This post contains mentions of suicide and terrorist attacks.

1."On the morning of the Manchester IRA bombing in June 1996, my grandmother had some dry cleaning to drop off. She was going to take it into Manchester City Centre but got a funny feeling and so took it to Salford instead. As she was getting the bus back, she could see smoke in the distance, and a guy on the bus was saying that Manchester had been bombed."

"Nobody died that day, but if my grandmother had have gone to her usual dry cleaners she would almost certainly have been injured."


the shopping center post-bombing and a list of facts stating it was the biggest bomb to hit the UK mainland since WWII, it happened in 1996, 220 were injured, and it caused 700 pounds in damage
Mathieu Polak/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

2."Growing up, I hated being dragged to church every Sunday by my ultra-religious Catholic mother. I would make up reasons not to go, and on a particular Sunday afternoon, I took a very long 'nap' and refused to get up, forcing her to stay home instead. That afternoon, at the time of the Mass she wanted to go to, the church was bombed by terrorists."


3."Not me but my dad's friend: She was sitting in a restaurant in Cape Town and her phone rang. She went outside to take the phone call, and while she was outside there was a massive explosion in the restaurant. It turned out a terrorist had exploded a bomb in the restaurant. She definitely would’ve died if she was in there."


4."My husband’s grandfather was stationed at Pearl Harbor back in the '40s and randomly missed his alarm. He booked it to the station, but when he got there, it was leveled."

"Had he woken up on time or even had his buddies force him awake, I wouldn’t have my husband right now. Because he woke up late one day, he how has 6 kids, 13 grandkids, 12 great-grandkids, and counting — several generations that wouldn’t be here without a missed alarm."


newspaper headline reading "1500 dead in hawaii; congress votes war"
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

5."I had a friend who was desperate to find a nanny for her baby. My best friend had experience so I recommended her; they hit it off, and she worked for them for five years. This nannying gig started super early, so she would call in for radio contests on her way in and won several prizes over the years. One prize was a pair of concert tickets she invited me along to — I was newly single and having a hard time meeting nice guys. On the train on the way down, I heard my name, and an old friend I hadn't seen in a couple of years ended up sitting with us the whole way down, taking my number, and becoming my closest friend...later my husband."

"If my friend hadn't been venting to me about not being able to find a decent nanny, I wouldn't have recommended my best friend, we wouldn't have been on that particular train, and who knows if I'd have ended up with the man I was meant to be with."


6."In the summer of 2019, my beloved mom passed away. At the time it had been 13 years since I moved cross country, and my best friend had never visited me in all that time. With the passing of my mom, she didn't want me to have a bad Christmas, so she decided to come out. I surprised her with tickets to Hamilton, and the Uber driver that picked us up is now my husband."

"We got married last May. Sometimes things have to fall apart to fall — together100% believe in fate."


Hamilton and Burr in the musical Hamilton labeled "The reason someone met their husband"
Disney+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

7."Had a kid in my class whose father had a meeting at the World Trade Center. [He] was running late that day [September 11] and forgot his briefcase with some important stuff in it, so [he] had to turn back. The first plane hit while he was going back for his work. He never made it to the buildings, and it probably saved his life."


8."Uncle of a friend of mine worked at the Pentagon and didn't go to work on 9/11 because he tripped and broke his leg on his way out to the car."


9."A guy I worked with years ago...[his] daughter worked in NYC in 2001. She had woken up late one morning and didn’t have time to grab breakfast. When she got to work, she decided to grab some food and coffee from the coffee shop in the building’s lobby. If she hadn’t stopped for the food, she would have been at her desk on the 95th floor of tower 1 when the first plane crashed into the WTC on 9/11."

"He knew what floor she worked on and spent the whole day believing she had died. It wasn’t till that night that she was able to get ahold [of] him and tell him she was alright."


twin towers with facts saying that the first plane hit between floors 93 and 99 and everyone above floor 91 died
Sparwasser / Getty Images/fStop

10."Me and my ex-friends were supposed to go to Florida for the weekend, and I found out my dad's older brother (my uncle) passed. The day and time we were supposed to arrive at the airport, we heard about some guy shooting up arrivals and baggage area. This was 2016. Our lives were saved by the passing of my uncle. If we had gone through with our trip, we would've been one of the casualties."


11."In college, I randomly decided to go for a run around 2 a.m. on a Wednesday. It was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so cold AF. No one was awake, and it was pretty spooky but also peaceful. As I was running, I noticed a person standing in the lake, which was mostly frozen. I thought it was odd, so I went to check on them. They were sobbing, so I jumped in the lake, too, and pulled them out. I took them back to my dorm, gave them warm clothes, and let them talk. Their boyfriend had just broken up with them, and they were trying to kill themselves."

"I told her no man or woman is worth your life. Six years later and they have their PhD, came out as nonbinary, travel the world as a competitive rollerblader, and are living their best life. We don’t talk much, but I’m so proud of them, and I’m so happy I went on that run."


The CW

12."I was in a chatroom (back in the early '00s when they were still a thing) when this guy said hi to me thinking I was someone else with a similar handle. We started chatting, but nothing came of it that evening. I didn't see him for about six weeks, and then one morning he showed up and we started chatting."

"Long story short, he is now my husband. We've been together for 14 years. All because he thought I was someone else."


13."When I was 10, a girl in my class asked me how I was doing. I never told anyone about it, but she kind of saved my life — I was planning on jumping into a large river, which was almost a certain death sentence in the winter. I had fought with my dad that morning and decided I don't want to be abused and alone anymore, so suicide was the only option in my 10-year-old brain."


Mouth saying "what you do matters, and how you do it matters" on One Tree Hill
The CW

14."I was leaving with my 4-year-old son. My phone started ringing while I was on the front porch, so I paused to answer it. And not even one minute after I did, a drunk driver slammed into my car that was parked on our street. if I wouldn't have answered that call, I would've been putting my son into that car that flew over 100 feet down the road."


15."My (maternal) grandparents had their first date in Boston. They and some friends were driving to a famous nightclub, but unfortunately their car broke down en route, and they never made it to the club."

"Good thing, too. Because the club was The Cocoanut Grove, and that was the night a massive fire broke out there, burning the club down and killing nearly 500 people. So there was a VERY good chance they could have perished as well — and I would probably not be writing this right now."


cocoanut grove night club after fire with facts like "occurred nov 28, 1942, deadliest nightclub fire in US history, and killed 492 people in 15 minutes"
Medianews Group / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

16."Everything about my life is a consequence of my mom dying when I was 14. I went into the deepest depression after her death, and after just being for six years I stumbled upon a depression chat room (still didn't know I had depression at that point, and to this day I have no idea what I googled to end up there). Met my first boyfriend there, who introduced me to a career path I never would've known existed otherwise."

"Went on a date with him to a library, read a book, and found my passion in said career path. Broke up with boyfriend. Spent a few more years making friends in the chat room before finally meeting my now-husband. Had a baby and moved to the other side of the world to continue my career passion."


17."I know someone whose parents met in the most amazing way. He was at a bar and took the number down of a woman he was chatting to. [A] few days later, he rings her to set up a date and didn't realize he had written the number down wrong by one digit. A different woman answered the phone, confused, but they ended up talking for hours, and the rest is history; they've been married for decades. All because he wrote a phone number down wrong."


phone number for susan written on paper with a lipstick kiss with the last number labeled "wrong number"
Evemilla / Getty Images

18."In high school, I went to the doctor to check out an infection on my toe. Regular thing, just thought it might need meds. Never did I expect that once there, doctor felt my throat and mentioned it seemed 'lumpy.' I didn't get it or understand until I had a biopsy weeks later and learned I had thyroid cancer."

"It's now dealt with and over and I'm healthy years later — but to think a toe led me to find cancer. It still blows my mind."


19."When I was in my 20s, I was bartending full time but wanted to get a 9–5 job with benefits, paid time off, etc. I was having no luck in my job search. One night after my shift, a coworker convinced me to go to another bar with them — one that was open later than ours. I didn’t want to go, but they begged me to. When we got to the other bar, we sat at a little booth, and someone had left their newspaper, open to the job listings (this was the '90s). I saw a job listed that looked interesting, so I tore it out and put it in my pocket. I applied the next day and got the job."

"I ended up meeting the man I married at that job, and we have a beautiful daughter. All because my coworker begged me to have a drink and I found that random old newspaper."


someone circling job listings in a newspaper
Tetra Images / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

20."I was in San Fransisco for a work conference (a conference I almost missed because my organization returned the registration paperwork after the deadline, but they made an exception for us). Anyway, while at this conference I decided to visit a famous martial arts school (I did martial arts at the time). I ended up missing the class by the time I got there, but a student in the class asked if I'd like to go to a party with him and his fellow students. I was tired and had to get up early for my conference the next day so was set on saying no, but suddenly I changed my mind and said what the hell and accepted his offer.

"That night I met my future husband, who happened to be the student's roommate. I live in New Jersey at the time and moved to California to be with him. We've been together 12 years, married for 8 with 2 kids."


21."My parents moved to Toronto when I started university. I was sad that I no longer had a home I recognized to go back to and all of my friends were far away. When I came back for the summer, my parents suggested becoming a ChildLife volunteer at SickKids so that I had something to do in a new city. Also, because they know I like kids and was semi-interested in medicine. Within one week, I knew I wanted to be a pediatric nurse. That became my whole focus, including modifying my degree after [my] first year. I’ve been a pediatric nurse for four and a half years now, and I love it!"

"I found a career I love (that’s afforded a huge amount of financial stability during a pandemic) all because my parents wanted me to have something to do in Toronto."


pediatrician with baby labeled "dream job"
The Good Brigade / Getty Images

22."Mine is choosing the college I didn’t get into the nursing program over the one I did, because it was where my best friends were going and my aunt was close by. Dead sure I wouldn’t be married to who I am and have my baby if I had along with other things. Biggest life decision and wrote a paper on it. And so glad I didn’t become a nurse."


23."When I was 18, I got into a car accident (not my fault) and suffered minor injuries. A friend from college had just moved in down the road, and he came and looked after me, as I had no family around at the time. We ended up becoming more than just friends, went to university together, and now, 20 years later, are happily married with two children. Goodness only knows if we’d be where we are now if it wasn’t for the car accident!"



24."Back in college, my (now) husband was living with a roommate. One of the roommate’s friends came over and was trying to convince the roommate to go to the US on a work and travel program with him the following summer. The roommate didn’t want to go, but my husband overheard and was interested."

"He ended up getting assigned to the same place where I was working my college summer job (a job I got last minute when the person in the position unexpectedly quit). I ended up being his work supervisor and training him, and 12 years later here we are."


25."I had a slew of horrible match-ups from dating sites and had decided to let the subscription lapse and be on my own for a while. ... One night I got a message from said app — a couple weeks before it was set to expire — from a guy that was just in town for a week on a job trial and asked if I wanted to just meet up for a pizza. ... We met up, had a great time, and didn't discuss all the typical first date stuff since we didn’t expect to see each other again. At the end of the night, we went our separate ways, him to another state."

"I was working a second job during my days off from my main source of income for a few years. One day I was on my way to work and decided to play hooky and take a hike. Afterward, I stopped at the grocery, and who was there standing next to me at the deli?? We have now been together 10 years. That was the only time I played hooky before or since."


guy gettin something at the deli
Minerva Studio / Getty Images/iStockphoto

26.And finally... "I decided on a whim to go house and dog sit in Bulgaria for a summer. A couple of strangers in Mexico found my blog and thought, hey, she'd be great to house and dog sit for us next summer. They lived outside the city I was going to move to in a few years, but that sped up my timeline for getting Mexican residency."

"I arrived at that assignment with a residency visa that I'd had no trouble getting at a time when Mexico's immigration system was going through huge reforms. By the next year, I didn't have the income to qualify, and it's just gotten harder since. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't taken that Bulgarian summer job, I would never have managed to emigrate to Mexico."


What's your favorite butterfly effect story? Let us know in the comments!

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