The Road Not Taken

Jordan Archer
Jordan Archer

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 marked 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. 

**Photo taken at the Nichols Arboretum at the University of Michigan.

The meaning behind Robert Frost’s poem above is often questioned. What does he mean by that second “I” in the second to last line? Is he hesitating? Is he happy with his choice?

When I was a senior in college, I faced a situation very similar to the one in Frost’s poem. I had to decide whether to go with the plan I had throughout college (which was to get a job and move to San Francisco, the path many Cal graduates take), or forge a new path along “the road not taken.”

I had often toyed with the idea of applying to be a leadership consultant. Women in my chapter had traveled for Sigma Kappa, and I had worked with several consultants in my two years as a chapter officer. The perks sounded fabulous: getting paid to travel for Sigma Kappa and making lifelong friends and connections with women all across the country. But I am not a big risk taker. I am a creature of habit. I always order the same meal at my favorite restaurant, I eat oatmeal for breakfast every single day, and I have had the same best friend since I was seven years old. Though I had thought about the LC position, I truly believed I would never go through with applying. That path was too unknown. There was too much room for variability, too much change ahead, too much familiarity, friendship and comfort awaiting me in San Francisco.

But then I got a letter from national headquarters, saying that Elizabeth Scott (who had visited my chapter earlier in the semester) had recommended that I apply for the leadership consultant position. This was all the push I needed. I applied for the position and was elated to get an interview at national headquarters. And when I got the call offering me the job, I did not hesitate in the slightest.

We are officially two months into the job now, and it has already been nearly eight months since I got that call offering me the chance to take the road not taken. I reflect on my decision a lot: did I make the right decision in heading down the unknown path? I can say, without hesitation, that I absolutely made the right decision. Yes, I get homesick. And yes, traveling out of a suitcase for three months is challenging. But the women I have met and experiences I have had are invaluable. These few months have provided me with a lifetime of personal growth, and I know there is so much more learning to come.

Almost every day on the road, I am faced with decisions that challenge my perspective and force me out of my comfort zone. Stay in and work on reports or go to a museum on campus? Order my usual soup and salad or try the fried pickles? Last week, I was faced with literally the same situation Robert Frost describes: on a run along the Huron River during a visit to Alpha Mu, University of Michigan, I faced a fork in the path. One path was well-paved and in the sunlight. The other was darker and had rockier terrain. Can you guess which path I took?

I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

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2 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken

  1. Such amazing words of wisdom for girls like me who are still in college. Thank you so much for this! I was hanging on every word 🙂

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