I haven't taken calls from my family in about two weeks. I just don't know what I could say to them to bridge that gap between what they expect of me, and where I see myself at this juncture in my life. I guess it's a coming-of-age cliché that is applied too broadly, but I find myself at a crossroads in my own life, with no map and no clear destination.
Fellow blogger Tall Penguin recently prefaced a post of hers with what is probably my favourite piece of verse anywhere, Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken:
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.
I honestly don't feel egotistical in saying that I consider myself one of the smartest people that I know. And yet, nearly every major decision in my life has been a turn towards the path of least resistance; not towards the route that involves the least amount of work, but rather the one that never forces me to examine my own personal flaws and shortcomings, and the dissonance between where I want to go and where I seem to be headed.
I just got notice from my university that I'm not welcome to return to my program. Pick another, you don't have what it takes for a Bachelor's of Commerce. And yet, it was never that I didn't have what it takes, but rather that I never did what it takes. If I attended more than 5 classes last semester, I would be extremely surprised. Yet none of them were particularly difficult; I learned the entire Macroeconimcs course over the span of a 48-hour study binge and came out with a 95% on the final exam. It was a matter of pride, really - a test of my own aptitute as a proof to myself that I'm not failing for lack of ability. And fail I did. Even a perfect exam score couldn't have saved me.
I'll be able to make an appeal on psychological grounds, on the basis of Major Depressive Disorder. It's a cop-out, to be sure, but the thought of a full year's gap out of school terrifies me. It's an inertia that might prove impossible to break, and I don't want to risk it.
One semester's hiatus, however, is unavoidable. I took on a lot of debt at the beginning of the summer with a failed business venture, and now I have to bite the bullet and work a few months past this coming September to pay it off. On friday, I started a job washing dishes and bussing tables at a local restaurant in Ottawa. My last frivolous expenditure for the foreseeable will be the drive down to Amherst, NY for the CFI On Campus 2008 student leadership conference, and onward to Washington, DC to see Sophie before I pull my debt-recovery vanishing act. I don't know if there's room in my life for a relationship right now, let alone something across so long a distance. That's something I'll have to figure out for myself. Whatever happens, though, she's among my closest and oldest friends, and I'll need her help and admonitions to make sure that washing dishes remains a strictly ad-hoc stopgap, and doesn't become a permanent staple in my life.
The truth is, I know that I have the intelligence, the charisma, and the tenacity to do well in my life. But it's dawning on me that aptitude alone is not enough, and that if I don't turn off the path that I'm on soon, the gap between the man that I am and the man that I want to be may one day become too broad to bridge.