Robert Frost said it best:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Except, I didn’t. I didn’t take the road less traveled by, I took the safe route. You see, I wanted to join the Peace Corps after college. I love to travel, I love adventure, I love other cultures. I really wanted to learn a language. And I knew they wanted people interested in health- and I was. I applied. I interviewed. And then I waited. For some reason…doubt that I’d get accepted, maybe…I applied to graduate school too. See, I’m a planner. An INTJ, as we learned yesterday. I’m practical. And I felt like I was putting my eggs all in one basket. Peace Corps wasn’t guaranteed. There were still health physicals to pass. Paperwork to gather. And the financial collapse was starting. Jobs were scarce and Peace Corps was becoming more popular, and more competitive. So, I applied to graduate school. I got accepted to graduate school. And I waited some more. My heart wanted Peace Corps. But the silence wasn’t a good sign. So, one day, I finally picked up the phone and called my recruiter to check up on my status. He was equally baffled that I hadn’t heard anything yet, so he said he’d look into things and call me back. I figured I’d be waiting a few more days. He called back 15 minutes later. I had passed the interview, but he had failed to actually submit my paperwork. He promised me he had just submitted it and I was good to go. I was thrilled. But there was bad news. They wouldn’t have any openings for another 8 months.
This was April. Most of my friends were graduating and starting jobs in June. I had graduated in December and was working a few part-time jobs while waiting to learn what my next step would be. I had already been waiting for 4 months. And now I would have to wait for 8 more months!? Again, as we learned yesterday, I’m not patient. I couldn’t just work part-time jobs for 8 months. (Yes, in retrospect, I realize I could have. And maybe I should have. But that didn’t feel like the smart or “practical” move at the time).
Leading up to this time..to finally learning I HAD been accepted into the Peace Corps, but now I would have to wait, there had been an unusually high numbed of deaths in Peace Corps. And I felt like this was just one more sign (the first being that my paperwork didn’t get submitted when it should have) that maybe this wasn’t my time. I had gotten into UCLA. A great school for my degree. I had never lived out west. And I kept seeing signs EVERYWHERE that were calling me to UCLA. For example, a girl I worked with, but didn’t really know, was from LA and moving back home and looking for a roommate. I went shopping in Urban Outfitters one day, and on the east coast, they had UCLA shirts. They were the ONLY college shirts in the store. IN a college town. ON the east coast. It just felt like things for UCLA were falling into place.
And so I chose. I chose UCLA. I put my dream of Peace Corps on hold. I went to LA. And I lived at the beach. And I made amazing friends. And did things I never dreamed of doing. And I fell in love. I met amazing women that I would end up traveling the world with. I made career decisions that have gotten me to where I am today. I tried new things (coffee, running, yoga!), and I learned to live on my own, away from my family and friends, just as I would have if I had joined the Peace Corps.
…but man, do I sometimes wish I had taken that other road less traveled. The more people I meet who have done Peace Corps, the more my regrets grow. I’ve tried to convince my husband to go with me. But he’s not ready. So maybe it’s my new retirement dream. Maybe down the road I WILL get to take that road less traveled.
But until then, the road I did travel, well, it wasn’t too shabby either. And in many ways, IT has made all the difference.