And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted it I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Oh yes, yet another person quoting Robert Frost. So cliché, right? I don’t care. Written in the early 1900s, this poem has stood the test of time and still speaks to many (namely, me). I first read this particular poem in 8th grade. My teacher, Mrs. S., required all of the 8th grade students to memorize and recite an assigned poem on a weekly basis. “The Road Not Taken” was one of those assigned poems. It was also one of my favorites. At the time, the poem didn’t hold much significance for me; I just liked the image it brought to my mind (a forked path in a forest) and the way the words flowed.
Now, I feel like it has some meaning for my life. For quite some time now, I’ve been feeling lost. I’ve known that, somewhere along the way, I chose the wrong path. (Okay, to be completely honest, I think I chose the wrong path several times). I didn’t take “the one less traveled by.” I took the path that was expected of me. I took the well-worn, well-traveled path, will clearly-defined boundaries. Last week, my therapist voiced (quite succinctly), what I had known all along: My life doesn’t fit me. I’ve been feeling so lost because I’ve been living someone else’s life. I’ve been conforming to someone else’s mold. The concept has weighed heavily on my mind since that conversation. What do I want? What is right for me? What can I change? Who am I? I could not come to any conclusions over the course of the week and it was becoming quite depressing.
Without any answers or any sense of direction, I once again returned to my therapist’s office last night. The session began with me regaling her with the tale of my weekend excursion to New Haven, Indiana for a party/bar crawl (a night filled with drinking, laughter, horrifying lap dances, budding friendships, and uncomfortable sexual advances). After my animated storytelling, the conversation shifted back to the topic of what fits me, since my current circumstances so clearly do not. I mentioned that my new friend ____ has recently been going through similar internal struggles, trying to decide what to do with her life because her chosen path doesn’t feel right to her. Last week, she decided to cancel her plans to attend veterinary school and focus on travel and journalism. She knows what she loves and I envy her for that. I also envy her because she came to this realization before she was too far down the wrong path.
And now for a brief aside…. One of the reasons I have been feeling so desolate about my situation is that I feel like I’ve traveled so far down the wrong path that I cannot return to the fork. I feel like I’ve made too many decisions (e.g., buying a house) that have trapped me in my current situation. I am at a somewhat different stage in life than my friend and it feels much more difficult to make those big life-changing decisions now that I think it would have been 5 years ago.
After I told her about my friend’s decision, my therapist announced that she thinks writing is mything. I don’t remember what adjective she used, but she said that she could tell from the way I write my blog posts (or at least the way I used to write them–since I’ve been slacking lately), that I’m a good writer and that it suits me. I have mixed feelings about it. I do enjoy writing, but I’m not sure how I could support myself financially with it. I would love the freedom that it would offer me (not always being stuck in a gray, corporate cubicle). I could find ways to incoporate my photography. We discussed it a little further because I did want to be a writer (of fictional books, specifically) when I was in 3rd-4th grade and again when I was in maybe 7th-8th grade. That dream just fell away after that point and I don’t know why. At some point in high school, I started writing poetry (I don’t think I have any of it anymore), but it was not anything amazing. Poetry just isn’t my thing.
So let us assume that some form of writing really is my thing. Now I have a broad direction. How do I start moving? My therapist (referring to her as such is getting really old, but this issupposed to be an anonymous blog) suggested that I start by having my friend ____ and my newspaper journalist friend ____ read and critique some of my blog posts. She also suggested that I contact a college advisor to find out if any college courses would be absolutely necessary for a career in journalism. She said I should contact the marketing/advertising department in my current company, as well, and see if they would have any writing assignments (that “don’t matter”) for which I could volunteer (this particular suggestion will be tricky). These, along with outlining a 5-year-plan, are my assigned tasks for my next therapy session (in approximately 1.5 weeks).
I left my therapy session in a really great mood last night. I was excited that we finally identified a possibility for me; something for me to work toward that might actually bring me closer to satisfaction with my life. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do, but I have a starting point, and that is something for which I have been searching. For the first time in what seems like forever, I feel excited about the future and I’m only focused on me.