Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference...
Our theme for these couple of weeks are roads not taken, which to me translates as regrets. Often we make choices based on fear. Often we're influenced by others--that's often called peer pressure, but in my regard, those influences are usually from authority figures. Less so now, more so when I was a floundering teen or twenty-something.
Early in college, I was influenced by an authority figure to reject a career in architecture for a major in art. This was not a disastrous choice but a bad one--fact is, I can't draw a straight line without a ruler or a circle without a compass. I sincerely do regret that decision. I still love old buildings and while I am fond of art, find myself drawn to decorative arts rather than fine arts. Paintings and sculptures are nice, but don't suck away my breath like a magnificent cathedral or well-made desk.
Later, I went to law school. Why? Sheer fear. I had graduated with an art major but without the slightest idea what to do with myself, and because I was interested in politics, had earned a master's in political science. Again, no idea what to do with it. Had my head been screwed on straight, and had there been a friendlier atmosphere in DC (the president was Reagan, I believe) I would have gone to DC and taken a job--any job--in the State Department and worked my way up. Who knows--by now I may have become an ambassador or even Secretary of State, though I doubt that based on my big mouth (excuse me, outspokenness). That my parents offered me an all-expenses-paid trip through law school made my decision easier.
I hated law school and loathed practicing law even more. But when I was about 46, a friend persuaded me to take a class called "Writing for Publication," which was about writing professionally for magazines and periodicals. I learned a lot, but the most surprising revelation was that every publisher promulgates submission guidelines. Until then, I had thought that writers just wrote whatever struck their creative fancy, and then found a publisher to buy the work. Now, with so many publication options available, that's more true than it was in the 1990s. Then, one wrote to a set of requirements.
This was a total eye-opener to me. Also enlightening was the information that over a thousand romance novels were published annually (Again, that's no longer the case. The market has exploded, mostly with indie-published works). But at the time, I said to myself, "Hey, I bet I could do that too." At At age 46, I was no longer the prisoner of fear.
Youth indeed is wasted on the young.