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The Diverged Path

Maddie Kizer

All of your life you have been walking down your comfortable road. When you begin the journey, you crawl. Then, as you get more used to your surroundings, you start walking. Next, you start humming to yourself with a skip in your step, sure of yourself and the direction you are moving. Your road and life have been paved for you without curves or obstacles. Since you know what to expect, you start to jog to change things up. After years of heading down this path, you break out into a run. As you begin to turn the expected corner, what you see frightens you beyond belief. You’ve never seen this part of the trail before.


Skidding to a halt and taking in your surroundings, you struggle to take a breath from running the straight trail for so long. The path behind you has been beautiful and simple. Up until this point, the trees along the way were bright greens and yellows, standing tall as if they were sure of themselves and their place among the crowd. Placed in front of you is a fork in the road, about a hundred steps away. As you near it, the colors of the trees have changed from yellow and green to a deep and cautious red; a color that makes your body and mind uneasy. What was once a road leading in one direction has now split into two choices. This is your life; the unnerving sight of two unknown paths entirely up to your choosing.


The moment you are in your life right now is this decision, the ending of an era and the beginning of change.  You are almost done with high school and you need to decide your future. The decision is completely yours. You can stay to the right, the lighter path where most have traveled. The safest option, the friendliest. These are similar to your state colleges that most everyone in your school decides to continue their education with. They are the easiest to get into, the most common choice, and the cheapest option in the long run. This is often the most comfortable. Or, you may choose to travel the path to the left; the more mysterious and seldom traveled road. This is like your out-of-state schools. More expensive, more risky, and a far more rugged trail than the right. No one can be certain what lies ahead. You have approximately seventy-five steps before you collide with this fork in the road. Even though you have time, you can’t help but feel it slowly creeping up on you, the winds pushing you closer to the divide like a magnet, whispering in your ear to make a choice soon.


Whichever road you pick has pros and cons. As your wide eyes investigate both paths, you are overwhelmed quickly. The sky even begins to turn from a happy blue to a questioning gray. It, too, is confused for your future and what is meant for you. Searching desperately for an easy solution to turn the mood around, you muster up an idea into your head. You crane your neck and stand on your tiptoes, drawing your palm to your forehead. Squinting your eyes, you begin to study each side closely, aiming to create a clearer image of what is ahead for both roads. As soon as you see a bit farther beyond the surface, the wind knocks you down and forces you to take a step back. The earth wants you to connect with it once again, flat-footed and ready to travel, starting with a choice. Your once reassuring and confident posture has turned into one of uncertainty and gives off an internal vibration, shaking your soul. Fifty steps left.


You take a deep breath and look into the abyss. Both sides are beautiful and different and freeing. Though you have traveled down a straight path paved for you for eighteen years, you feel like you are just now becoming alive. The path feels like it has gone on for forever, but you find comfort in that. You suddenly feel more gratitude for everyone who has helped to carve your road thus far, because you know what you do with that foundation is your choice now. The whispers that were once all-consuming and biased now whisper it is up to you. The trees near you no longer look dark and intimidating but strong and capable, ready to catch you should you stumble. Twenty-five steps left.


Before you know it, the wind has placed your body at the end of your senior year and your toes at the fork in the road. You have arrived.  Instead of having fear, you take a sigh of relief. You believe in yourself. You have done intense research on both paths, weighing your options carefully, but you know the road you will travel is the one that makes your soul shine and your heart rejoice. While the statistics and facts are important and necessary, at the end of the day and the beginning of the rest of your life, the path tugging at your heartstrings is the one you must follow.

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