“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost
I originally wrote this article back in 2013 and it’s sat by the side of my desk for some time.
I came across it again and reflected.
Sometimes, things in life—be it school, jobs, or relationships—don’t work out.
Possibly for a reason, or maybe it’s just not the right season of our life and the timing is off.
Many of us may find ourselves at a crossroads during this strange and uncertain time.
We will all encounter periods in our lives when there are two paths, as Frost so eloquently penned.
Recently, I found myself at a particular fork in the road, and it was not without pain or struggle.
At 40, after a year of working as a social worker in psychiatry, I applied for graduated studies. I was elated to be accepted to a Masters in Psychology program. It was a dream come true.
The next step was funding. I applied for a student loan and was rejected.
I took the news as a huge blow—again, the past harshly slapping me in the face, reminding me of my struggles working and raising a child on my own.
I questioned the government policy and lack of insight regarding education, poverty, and the empowerment of people.
For a week, I felt like I’d hit a brick wall—until I received a visit from my sweet sister.
Ten years younger than I am, my little sister is often much wiser than me, and she’s often the voice I need to hear.
During the visit, I was reminded what is important. We all come face-to-face with decisions and disappointments.
My little sister was experiencing the same in her life, returning to studies in nursing only to find that she is not “nursing material.” Her first passion is psychology—it’s where her heart and talent lie.
Alissa asked me, “What about school makes you happy?”
My response instantly was the writing.
I said that I was sure that it was my letter that led to my acceptance, not my grade point average. School was an exciting prospect for me, because it was moving forward.
I thought more about my response and questioned, do I need to be enrolled in formal education to feel like I am moving forward in life?
What I desired was to create.
What I need already exists within me. This was a profound moment.
My final reason for enjoying school and desiring to return was, and is, the feedback and positive encouragement that it brings.
Again, I questioned why this was important.
My work in social work is often not tangible and at the end of the day, I do believe that I want to see my efforts in terms of something that can be measured. Is this why the artist creates?
Alissa continued to share her own crossroads story.
She began telling me, “Renee, it is just that you are not Susan.”
“What,” I stammered, “are you talking about?”
Alissa shared with me her experience trying to get a job as an emergency shelter worker in Victoria after completing her psychology degree.
The job interview went poorly. She realized that she would not be able to complete any part of the job without requesting assistance. The employer said to her, “I don’t have to say anymore, do I?” Alissa said she knew that the job was not for her, however, she valued the experience.
Later, she walked by the boardwalk harbor. A man on a boat yelled and waved and called, “Hey, are you Susan?” He was waiting for a new employee to travel the sea and work with him on his boat.
For a second, my sister paused and thought, I could be Susan. It sounds like a fun and exciting job out at sea.
Then she realized that her whole life she was pretending—trying to be someone other than herself, her true authentic self.
She was not Susan. And neither am I.
I can relate to her life story and I can see my own lived experience within it.
I still want to attend graduate school, but right now my heart’s desire is writing.
I am not Susan. I am a social worker and a writer, and more than that, I am not defined by what I do in this world, but by my life experiences, my interaction with people, and my creativity.
Some people call this a moment of enlightenment; I call it a moment of truth.
Society has us convinced that life can always be better.
We forget to live in the moment and do what makes our spirit happy. I am content in love and have zest for life—need there be more?
Next time you are at a similar crossroads in life, pause and remember that sometimes when things don’t work out, and hearts are broken or filled with regret, we have something greater planned for us.
I chuckle now. For so long I was focused on what society deemed important.
Tonight, I realize my heart lies in the written word and in literature.
I still desire to attend graduate studies, but I now know the real reasons, and I have identified that I am who I am regardless. I can and will continue to work counselling and helping people, creating, and becoming the best authentic person I can be.
By The Water’s Edge
By the water’s edge I stand
My strength cool as the water
I have no regrets to confess
my heart in no duress
A poet’s soul I possess