Time can be a tricky thing. So often we see characters traveling through time and creating alternate realities only for it to end poorly. Take Jonathan in In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks:
Sometimes high school senior Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is heroic, desirable, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most often, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.
But when Jonathan confuses his worlds and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie suddenly notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.
Clearly creating alternate universes becomes more of a curse for Jonathan than anything else. This got me wondering why anyone would want this sort of ability in the first place. Below I’ve compiled reasons why you should never mess with the timeline.
You can drive yourself crazy trying to make things exactly perfect.
Here’s the thing about life. It’s not perfect. It’s messy and chaotic, and sometimes awful. But the bad times often lead to something good. If you spend your time trying to make everything exactly perfect, you will never be satisfied. The world may never be just right, but that’s the beauty of it.
You can take on too much.
If there’s anything I learned from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s that limitless time can be a bad thing. Hermione spends the bulk of the book running around trying to take as many classes as she can by using a Time Turner. She’s always been a good student, but trying to do too much runs her ragged and she ends up doing far worse in school. Clearly limitless time did not solve any of her problems but only added to them.
You can get confused.
It can be hard to keep up with so many different timelines. Imagine forgetting if the timeline you’re in is the one where your sister was never born and asking your mom where she is. Or for Jonathan, forgetting which world he’s dating Kylie Simms. This could be a serious problem and lead people to question your sanity, so it’s best to just stick to one version of events.
You can make it so you were never born.
So often we see people messing with timelines only to end up in a world in which they never existed. It’s a scary prospect and a real concern when you start messing with events. If you start messing with timelines, this should be the number one thing to look out for.
You can never be sure if your relationships are genuine.
If you create timelines only to please yourself, there will never be any genuine elements to it. Your friends will just be your friends because you made it that way. It’s far better to know that what you have with people who want to be with you of their own volition and not because you made it happen by manipulating reality.
You can lose who you truly are.
Jonathan spends so much time trying to create worlds where he’s a better version of himself. He can reinvent himself innumerable times, but he’s losing that essential thing that makes him Jonathan. There’s nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself—perhaps by making commitments to eat healthier or read more—but at a certain point, being genuinely you should be the most important thing.
Not convinced? What would you do if you had Jonathan’s ability? Let us know in the comments below!