“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.” – Robert Frost
Analogies and metaphors about maps, roads, path, journeys and footsteps are all a dime a dozen. The one that has always stuck with me though, was made by my high school ag teacher. I remember sitting on the table in the empty classroom after school one day, ranting – something I did often through my senior year – about what was coming next, decisions I had to make and what I fretted most about: the things I could not control.
Aside from my parents, he was my go-to person to talk through things with. Always patient, but never wavered from telling it to me straight. That day he was a little frustrated with me and finally stopped my rant mid-sentence, walked up to the white board and drew a long curvy line. He said something similar to, “Amanda, this is your life, one long winding road. On this road you have a lot of destinations (goals) and inevitable life mile-markers that you will pass. Some people will never leave the passenger seat and others are only on the trip with you for a short distance. There will be mountains and valleys that challenge you along the way, adding wear and tear to your car, adding character and memories. And sometimes you will take an exit for a pit stop (drawing a branch on the curvy line). What I want you to understand is that there is always an entrance ramp to get back on the main road. There are a lot of decisions that we have to make in life that don’t have a right or wrong answer, and even more where we don’t have control over the situation. If the coffee is good, maybe you will stay awhile, but if it is bad, it is not the end of the road, it is just a stop along the way, a detour (connecting the brand back to the curvy line). As the driver, the only things that matter are that you keep traveling forward and if you aren’t enjoying the scenery along the way, you do have the control to make a turn at the cross roads.” Over the past seven years that conversation continued to stick with me, and had guided me through a lot of decisions and experiences.
Now in my mid 20’s and two years into the “post-grad life,” I find myself having another conversation over and over with people. At this stage of life, from our mid 20’s to 30’s or so, I see my peers going in so many different directions and many of us seem to be wondering, “how did I get here, and is it right or wrong?” Some go straight to their dream job or onto more education, and others still do not know what they want to be when they grow up. Some get married and start a family, and others cannot even imagine being responsible for anyone besides themselves. Naturally, we often start comparing each other, either judging others or feeling inadequate ourselves, even though we should know better than to compare apples to oranges, or zucchini to Diet Coke for that matter. But we are a generation raised on goal-setting and needing validation, so how do we even begin to define what success is at this stage of life?
I love to write and for me blogging is a creative outlet and way to scrapbook my life. I have no goals for being a lifestyle or agriculture blogger, but lately I have been interested in starting a conversation on here that I can take ownership of and I think that this is it.
As a communicator, I have always been fascinated by people’s stories, and find myself most motivated by my network of friends and peers trying to navigate through the same stage of life as I am, regardless if we have anything in common at all. If I am living by the philosophy that my ag teacher once taught me, then that means that everyone’s definition of success and happiness is different. We can still support and celebrate those differences even if we cannot relate, and there is always something new that we can learn from each other.
In my new “The Road I Traveled” weekly series I am going to feature a new young professional and their story every Monday. Obviously my agriculture network is the biggest, but we will see people outside of that industry too. Some will be married, have kids, be in grad school or maybe they chose a path outside of formal education. They will come from across the country, different backgrounds and each have something unique to share.
This is obviously a new idea so I am open to input and suggestions. Most of all I am really hoping that those I reach out are open to me sharing their story. My first post in the series will start on Monday and I figured it would be best to kick things off by sharing my own story.