The Road Not Taken


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.

From about the time I was five or six years old, I realized that I was different. Different from many other girls, in that my favorite pastimes, other than reading books, were playing cars (usually by digging elaborate parking garages in my best friend's mother's flower garden) or racing up and down the block with my best friend and our "campers". Our "campers" consisted of a bike, with a red wagon (Radio Flyer, of course) tied behind it, with an upside down lawn chair over the top, usually with a bath towel or sheet we had spirited out of the house under our mother's radar. And yes, my best friend was a boy.

I did enjoy my dolls and Barbies, but most often on my own, when I could sit and concoct elaborate stories for their lives, usually consisting of living in apartments in far-off big cities, or travel to lands far-away. I did have girl friends, but when your favorite interests are cars, trains, climbing trees, and "camping", you usually befriend boys or spend some time on your own.

At ten, being different was a part of every day life. Around this age, I first discovered Robert Frost's poem, and it resonated in my ten year old mind. Recognizing that there are not always those who follow the well trod path, and that maybe they are better for that, helped me cope with being different.

I kept returning to this poem through junior high and high school, trying to find who I was and where I fit. Realizing that it definitely wasn't in the cheerleader or sports hero group of small town Indiana, nor really any of the other defined groups (think Breakfast Club), but still somehow longing for a more popular path or just belonging to a group. I know that during one year, I don't recall which, I had the poem hanging in my locker to remind myself between classes.

In college, things changed as I met many more people like me, started working and met even more, then went to graduate school, where suddenly nerds ruled and it just didn't matter as much how you looked or what your parents did or the clothes you wore or all the small things that mattered in a small town.

I actually haven't thought about this poem in years, the poem that gave me strength and courage to find, accept, and be me, until recently, when I needed to consider the paths that lay before me. After much reflection and introspection about those paths, this poem came to me and made my future path clear. I realized my path to choose, that hopefully years from now, I would agree has made all the difference.

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