The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
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, as 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 if 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.
I don’t remember when I first read “The Road Not Taken,” it was probably in high school. It struck a chord with me the first time I read it, the solitary traveler deciding between the well-worn path or the one that was “grassy and wanted wear.” I always agreed with the traveler that taking “the one less traveled by” does make the difference in life. I believed that I wanted to blaze my own trail and be different. I told myself that I wasn’t going to be a lemming and just follow the crowd down the marked path in life, what’s the fun in that? Where’s the joy in that? I wanted something different from the norm, I didn’t want to be predictable or boring. I wanted people to marvel at my daring to step outside the box and try cool and interesting things, bold things.
You see, to me, the road less traveled by was more or less a literal thing to me. That if I did this or went there or experienced that, as long as they were different than what I thought people expected of me, then I was successfully walking my road less traveled. Because I was looking for external things to create my road less traveled, my life went off track when I was in college around 1998 and remained that way for several years. I found myself merely existing, not living. At the time, I knew somewhere deep down that this was not the life for me, there was no passion and no joy. One day when I was talking to my friend Julie from college, she asked me, “Are you happy?” I said yes, but it didn’t ring true. Her asking me that, struck a chord.
In 2006, with the passing of my dad in April and my turning 30 in November, I started to slowly wake up from the stupor I had fallen into. I was tired of feeling stuck and I was tired of feeling like my life had no purpose. I was working as a mortgage collections rep for Citi Financial Mortgage, collecting on their sub-prime mortgages (before the housing bubble burst) and every day going to work was like going to hell for me. I got called lots of names on that job and yelled at I don’t know how many times, but the worst call was when a customer called me a cunt. Having that much negativity coming at me on a daily basis was draining and literally soul sucking. So, in the spring of 2007, I packed up and moved back home to Minnesota after having spent ten years in Phoenix.
Coming home started bringing me on track to finding my road less traveled. I got back into school and completed my bachelor’s degree in writing in December 2010. But, 2011 turned out to be an emotional and mental roller coaster for me. It’s only been during these first couple months of 2012, as I’ve been doing some reflecting, that I realized how out of sorts and lost I became during 2011. I started the year in the middle of applying to the Peace Corps, but in April made the decision to withdraw my application. As I began searching for a job that would allow me to use my degree, I kept hitting a lot of walls because of my lack of experience. My confidence became shaken, frustration set in, and I gave up on finding a different job for a while.
In the last couple months, I’ve started to re-focus to determine what I want to do with writing, what really matters to me, and to find a way to put it together to create my own sense of purpose and meaning in what I do. And as I’ve re-read “The Road Not Taken” to write this blog, I’ve realized that I’ve had it all wrong. The road less traveled is not an external thing; it is an internal thing. It’s looking within and really listening to the whispers of your heart and the stirrings of your soul. I was so lost for so long, because I wasn’t doing that, I wasn’t paying attention. And I think that’s true for a lot of people, which is why, for too many, it is the road not taken that is “grassy and wanted wear.” Even though I understand that without my experiences to this point, I wouldn’t be who I am, I still feel like I wasted time and I don’t want to waste anymore. As I keep trying quiet my mind and listen to my heart, it’s scary and it’s uncertain and I don’t know what exactly I’m going to find as I move forward. What I do know is I can write about it, and that’s what I plan to do.