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Fear of the Road Less Traveled

by Matthew Walton '23, Career Ambassador Feb 14, 2021

The famous poet Robert Frost, in his poem The Road Less Traveled, gets to the heart of decision making, which is something we do each and every day. Let me share this poem with you before I offer my own story of a big decision: my major search. 

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 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.

-Robert Frost

Ever since my first day of school in the fall of 2005, I knew I wanted to teach. While my weekdays were filled with school, my weekends were filled with playing school—and man, I was tough. Even to this day, at family gatherings, my relatives often ask, “Do you have any tests for us to take this time?” 

Young children's minds are like sponges; they are constantly absorbing information around them and developing passions for things like dinosaurs, dolls, blocks, etc. Oftentimes, these come and go, but my passion for teaching has never left. My senior year of high school I became extremely interested in Spanish ,and was given the privilege to take AP Spanish Language. I did very well in that class, so I thought I had it all figured out. I would go to college, study Spanish, and become a Spanish teacher. This plan was the road I was looking down as I started my college journey. 

In my first semester, I felt unfulfilled in my courses. The passion I had once felt was dwindling, and it took a huge toll on me. But later that semester, on a night where I was slowly chiseling away at my massive amount of Spanish homework, I decided to take a break. I opened my folder to find the handout for an assignment for a philosophy class. The assignment was asking us to relate Plato’s Parable of the Cave to something in our own lives. The parable asks us to challenge how we can sometimes blind ourselves to the truth out of a desire for our own security, and I thought this related to society’s current view on religious belief. This topic just popped into my head, and soon enough I began reading a bunch of books in the library on my topic. I thought to myself, “maybe I will become a Theology major since I really enjoy writing about this topic!”

I had spent the majority of my high school years away from the Church, and while my faith was rekindled during my senior year, it was still far from the top of my priorities. But a few months after the Plato’s Cave assignment, I took Introduction to Catholic Theology with Dr. Rodney Howsare. I had been blessed with a very rich retreat experience a few weeks prior, after which I was eager to learn more about my faith. 

As the semester unfolded, I found myself enjoying this Theology class more than my other courses, and after a mere two weeks of this course, my mind was made up that I would switch my major to Theology and study this material that still to this day enlivens my senses and fills me with immense passion. 

But I was terrified. I had been so sure of my chosen road, and my mind told me that if I switched majors now, those who had supported me would think I was a failure. And this Theology major road was certainly the road less traveled—it would be a huge risk. Yet, I took the “other” road, to quote Frost, and eagerly started walking ahead.

For so much of my freshman year I delayed this decision because I was afraid of disappointing those who had believed in me. It has been two years since I officially submitted the “major change” form, and I have not looked back since. This event has taught me that being absolutely sure of anything is always a mistake. When we try to grasp at our own destiny, we always fall short of what our potential can be. But when we embrace an attitude of openness, we can take the stress off ourselves and wait to see what happens.

Yes, I took a huge risk by embarking on the road less traveled, but quoting Frost positively, “it has made all the difference.”

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