Two Paths Diverged
I recently obtained a certification as an internal auditor. What this means is that I have demonstrated sufficient work experience, education, and knowledge of the principles embodied by the profession. What this also means is that I now have initials at the end of my name. I updated my work email signature so that it’s official (as of February 2nd) and every time I see that signature I see a that I’ve made a choice. I’m now a professional internal auditor, I’ve agreed to uphold professional standards and maintain my knowledge in the subject through continuing professional education. I mention this not so much because I’m proud of the accomplishment (relieved to be done would be more accurate), although it’s not easy, anyone with the initiative could do the same. To misquote Frost: Two roads diverged in wood and I- I took the one most traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
The more I think about this poem the more I feel like it represents a cruel irony. Growing up this poem was quoted in school by those who took the most traveled path to encourage students to take the other. As a kid I wanted nothing better than to please people, especially adults that had expectations for me. As such, I, unlike other kids, followed implicit and explicit advice from those more experienced. The result was that I had less hardship from making some responsible decisions, and also made choices based on idealist regrets from other people. I also had other issues to contend with, such as a lack of stable middle-class parents to support me, and ridiculous stubbornness to do everything myself and have it all at once.
This is all to say that rather than being told to go to college and major in business and then bucking that expectation to make my own way, I was encouraged to simply make my own way. The result is that making my own way turned out ultimately to pursue art, not have the money/will power to make it a career, then going to college to major in business. And here I am, officially a professional, made my family proud (although they never seemed to think I was destined for this) and for what? I don’t feel any different than I felt at sixteen: ambitious, willing, idealistic, and completely unsure of what I want to do when I grow up. The difference is I’m in a worse financial position and now that I have these initials after my name, I have a new set of expectations to manage.