A young, ignorant but know-it-all teenager has a tough decision to make when they’re 15. What subjects do I need to take? Which ones are more important than others. At age 15, I am expected to know what I want to do with my life. If I decided to take commercial subjects and I later decide that I want to become a scientist when I am 17 - then I might be in big trouble. What now? What happens when the road that you have decided to travel on, isn’t what you had in mind?
I was listening to a TikTok the other day, and someone said that they hope that they won’t look back later on in life and regret the choices and decisions they were “forced” to take in their early twenties. This reminded of this exact poem, the road not taken. I have found myself, wondering why as teens we are tasked with such huge decisions; for example, the subject choices we make in Grade 9 determine our careers.
The Road not taken, by Robert Frost.
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
Oh, how I wish I could see what the end of this road looks like. Whooaah! Wait, what road? Let’s take a journey back to Grade 9 or matric, when we had to make some pretty difficult choices. When we apply for university, we are given one, two or sometimes three choices. Option 1 is the one everyone wants but might not get. Option 2 for me was that one where I was like well uhh, it wouldn’t be that bad, right? (hides). Two roads? Two choices? Whether option 1 or 2 is success, it’s a road we choose to take. I read this poem differently as an adult, compared to when I was a teenager. I find it interesting how the poet, says in one line that the one road is just as fair as the other, even if it sounds as though he never traveled both. Or did he?
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept 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.
Doubts often creep into our lives when we feel like we are not where we want to be. We are often in a rush to complete things, or we become frustrated when the road we decided to take, does not look like what we originally envisioned. So we end up in the pit of regret, should we go back to the crossroad and take the other road? Probably? Probably not? I always thought that Robert was saying that you choose one road and you live with that, but no, we don’t. Life is too long to be stuck with one choice that we make as teens. The road taken may have not led me to where I wanted to be, but that does not mean that I can’t go back later in life and make a different decision on the road that I would like to take.
What are your thoughts?