The Road Less Traveled: Following Your Heart

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We are all afraid of making the wrong choice and it doesn’t help that we constantly have our family and friends telling us what we should or shouldn’t do. When we have so many people giving us advice, how do we ultimately decide what to do with our lives? This question is one that has been asked many times and, because of that, there are so many answers. However, the only one that comes to mind is to take the road less traveled.

This advice is not my own, of course. But if you’re familiar with Robert Frost, then you have read his poem ‘The Road Not Taken.’ It’s a short poem that is seemingly about someone who comes across two paths in the woods, but one of the most magical things about poetry is that it can be interpreted in many different ways. With that said,  when the narrator in the poem says that he (or she) “took the road less traveled by,” I immediately think of the unknown, and how scary it is to do something that no one else you know has done before or to go somewhere where no one you know has gone.

Some people push through the fear of the unknown and open themselves up to an adventure, only to find out, in the end, that it “has made all the difference” in their lives, in the way that they look at life, etc. Then there are the people who are terrified to take their own path because they don’t have a shiny, crystal ball at their disposal. These are the people who don’t do what they want to do with their lives because they don’t know where their dreams will take them, but they do, for example, know where majoring in the major their parents choose or getting into the family business will lead them. They have these pre-planned maps laying in front of them, telling them which paths to take to get them to a destination and, for most people, that’s less-intimidating than not knowing where their life will end up.

But you have to remember that not all roads are straight; they wind and bend and sometimes things fall on them, blocking you from finishing the journey that you started. In other words, even with a life map, you can get misguided and led astray. You aren’t free from obstacles just because you’re taking the road that everyone else has traveled.

Life doesn’t simply go from point A to point B. There are so many other things in-between that prevent you from getting to B, and if B is not truly your desired destination, what is going to motivate you to get you there? Yes, it’s scary not knowing where you’ll be five, or even ten, years from now, but even with a ‘safe plan,’ things can go wrong and the future you thought you would have might not be the one you get.

No one is sure of what their future holds and that is why the only way to see your future is to get there. Don’t waste your time moving toward a future that you don’t really want because not only will it be harder to arrive at but you won’t be happy in the end. So think about where you want to be years from now and get there. It doesn’t matter where ‘there’ is, as long as you put all of your energy into reaching a desired destination instead of a destination that you know you don’t really want to reach.

If you want to go to medical school or visit every continent at least once, then make sure you take the road that will allow you to follow your heart because your heart is the only thing that matters when it comes to planning out the rest of your life. Your family and friends might say they know what’s best for you, but only YOU know what that is. And the greatest mistake that you could ever make is choosing to travel down a road where you’re not too fond of the destination. If you’re not happy about where your life is going, that is your heart telling you that you are heading in the wrong direction.

I know that following your heart can be just as terrifying as the unknown, but you don’t want to live a life of regrets; you don’t want to look back when you’re older and ask ‘what if.’ It doesn’t matter if people say that the journey to medical school is hard or if everyone around you thinks that experiencing the world is not as important as getting an education. You do what is right for you, not because it’ll make life any easier (because it won’t) but because you’ll be more motivated to reach the end of that road you chose to travel down. With your desired destination or goal in mind, you can achieve anything, be anything, and do anything you want with your life. The sky is not your limit, because there are planets above the sun and the moon and the stars. Yes, you will encounter obstacles. Yes, the road will wind and bend and, at times, it will be too dark to see what lies ahead, but as long as you remember to always follow your heart, it won’t ever lead you astray.

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