Self - September 8, 2016

Taking the Road Less Traveled

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I’m on my way to NYC today, but wanted to write about some things on my mind since my trip to Washington this past weekend. Unlike many of my recent trips, I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts adventuring or hiking, which gave my mind plenty of opportunities to wander.

For this trip, my friend Hope and I left a lot of margin and flexibility in our schedule/itinerary to allow for adventuring and spontaneity. We had a generic idea of what we wanted to do and the places we wanted to go, but we left a lot open. Specifically, our traveling (road-tripping) days were wide open, leaving plenty of time to wander and even get a little lost – in the right direction of course. It was so nice to go at our own pace and soak up all the beauty – stopping at random spots here and there.

Our road-tripping adventures got me thinking about maps – in a literal sense (of course, ha!) but also in a metaphorical sense as well. There were a bunch of different roads/paths we could’ve taken to get from point A to B and we had a hard time deciding on which one to take. Of course, there’s the shortest route, but just as in life, that’s not always the best one. And just because it’s the shortest doesn’t mean we should go that way either – especially since we were more interested in experiencing the beauty of the cascades and making the most of our time/travel than getting there at a certain time.

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But taking this concept of choosing paths to a more general level, I feel like it’s safe to say that this is the case no matter what the situation is. Further, there’s usually always more ways to get somewhere. In the same vein, there’s typically always an “easy”, more familiar path that’s somewhat “ paved” or a little more certain than others.

I can relate in a number of ways, but this especially reminds me of the start of my career as a CPA. I went to college and majored in accounting because it was a GOOD job and respectable—both things that were really important to me. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I wanted to be someone who others were impressed by, and having a legit job as an accountant got me there. Plus, I liked that there were defined steps to reaching financial security. I wanted to have my future all planned out (as much as I could) and becoming a CPA made me feel secure and in control (and I knew I could get a job no matter what – everyone needs an accountant, right?! ha)

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I think it’s normal (especially as a 20-something) to feel like you’ve got to have it all figured out. I feel that pressure all the time – even more so now that I’m working for myself (eeeekk). But the truth is, we don’t have to have it all figured out. Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is progress enough. Just do the next thing, move forward and you’ll figure it out eventually and momentum will come when it comes.

Just because someone (or everyone) else did “it” (whatever that may mean for you in your life) one way doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. Also similarly, just because it’s familiar to you or the industry norm doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best choice for you or the best way to get where you want to go. There’s always more than one way to get to the same destination. And maybe along the way (as you’re taking an alternative route), you’ll discover that you don’t even want to go there anymore (ha – that’s what happened to me!) In the same vein, just because there’s already a paved path so to say doesn’t mean that’s the route you should or need to take to get where you want to go or achieve your goals.

I definitely think there’s value in knowing what you want and/or where you want to go (i.e., your destination/goals), but I also think it’s okay to not have those answers too. I certainly didn’t have the slightest clue when I was a senior in college that I was heading towards becoming a fashion blogger. In fact, I imagined almost the exact opposite – boring black suits, starched shirts, and Wallstreet.

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It’s scary to take the road less traveled because it means venturing into the unknown but the rewards are often so much greater. I mean, “the road less traveled” is a cliche for a reason – right? It’s assumed (I think) that the road less traveled requires courage and confidence in yourself. We all fear failure and often make decisions in an attempt to avoid it, but I’m learning (the hard way sometimes) that failure is actually pretty awesome. Hear me out (ha!). When you think about it, difficulties, struggles, and various degrees of failure are simply in an inevitable and undeniable part of life – no matter how hard we try to prevent them.

I don’t want to get too far off an a tangent here, so let me reign it in (ha). My point is that we’re all beautifully different and uniquely created to fulfill distinct purposes in life. First I want to encourage by way of reminding you of your individuality and unique snowflake-ness – you’re special. Your life, your experiences and the intricacies that make it up (your personal “path” so to say) are unlike anyone else’s. I think realizing and embracing this alone is empowering. Right?!

Taking the path less traveled (the unpaved, scary one) might be the best part of your story – you get to pave your own way and make (and own!) your own decisions and future. So if you’ve been making decisions or doing things because you feel like it’s safe or you have to – make take some to reassess and dig into YOU and what makes YOU tick. You know? Get yourself in the driver seat.

I want to inspire you to take risks, pay attention to your passions and embrace uncertainty. And plus, following the crowd, doing things because “ it’s what worked for her” or “ what everyone else is doing” isn’t really helping you anyway. Don’t live your life limited to the roadmap and what’s already been charted out don’t limit your imagination to what already exists. Think outside the box, venture into the unknown, and learn to tolerate the uncertainty. Learn to be okay with not knowing all the details and accept that sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is good enough. I think that regardless of how things turn out or where you end up, paving our own path (and owning your decisions) will undoubtedly be more beneficial and rewarding for you than the alternative.

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