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.“
It’s tough to believe it’s been 6 years. 4th May 2007 was the day I landed in Edinburgh, jet lagged, still a bit nervy from a girl who had got travelsick on a long haul flight from Singapore. I had no idea what would happen next. And it was not the easy path I had chosen. It was the unknown one.
The previous summer I had graduated from university. A graduation five long years in the making. But for the first time in a very long time, I was contented. I had finally settled in my Aberdeen life. I had a great family of friends. Things with my blood related family were better than they ever had been. I’d begun a relationship with a Christian guy who I first thought was on the same page as me. I split my time between Edinburgh and Aberdeen working some weeks as a care worker, others as a receptionist or clerical worker in NHS hospitals while I looked for a job. I’d been rejected from my applications to study medicine and midwifery. I was about to start re-applying and looking to study some of the qualifications I needed to do medicine. My boyfriend convinced me not to. Instead, I started applying for jobs, and got a temporary contract as a Community Education Worker. I was thrilled. A proper wage (I now realise the pay was AWFUL) and the hope of a permanent contract at the end with the promise of them paying for me to do my Community Education diploma while I worked.
In those seven months, I worked myself into the ground. I was out of my depth. I was asked to lie to people. Or at least to me it was lying. My boyfriend brought the worst out of me. He discouraged me from doing things I was scared to do. I don’t know if it’s possible to forget the first time I led worship at my church. Afterwards he told me he thought I should never do it again. Every time I’ve led worship since (and those times have been few) I’ve heard his words and seen his face in my memory. In March 2007 I was invited to reapply for my job to get a permanent contract. I prayed about it, and felt like maybe I was to go back to Edinburgh. I told him so. He broke up with me.
It was however an upsetting day. He stayed in my flat for an hour and wouldn’t go away until I went to work. I went through my day, and when everyone else went home, I locked myself in the Senior Community Worker’s office. I called my friend and started bawling. That day I made the decision – I was returning home.
The plan was sensible. Finish my contract til March 31st. Get the flat ready for selling, and live there until I sold it or found a job in Edinburgh. My Dad and stepmother offered to financially support me until I was able to do this.
Only it didn’t happen like that. That night, I went home after that evening’s youth work meeting. I cried on my friend’s shoulder. And then overnight I developed a fever and by the next morning I had the flu. I lay on a mattress on my living room floor for days. Friends came in and out. I prayed to God, and the answer I received was clear audible one: It’s time to go home. And I’m not going to tell you what you’re going to do when you get there. You’re going to have to trust me.And then I call came from Los Angeles.
It was decided I’d go out to Australia to meet my friends.
And then I’d come back and look for a job and sell the flat.
Only it didn’t happen like that either. The day my friend walked with me to STA Travel to make sure I booked that flight, we bumped into my (now ex) boyfriend’s best friend and his girlfriend. They desperately needed a flat to rent that they could afford. And so I said ‘why don’t you rent mine?‘
And suddenly I realised that I had 3 weeks to move out of my flat. And when I came back from Australia I had nowhere to live, and no job to go to.
I did let my friends at the respite home I’d worked at know I was coming back to Edinburgh, and I was grateful that they had said ‘yes’ to putting me back on their pool staff team. That put me at ease a bit as it made it all sound better when I was explaining to people what I was doing, why I was leaving so suddenly.
God did a lot of work in me during those 4 weeks in Australia. It’s why Australia means so much to me. I feel like Australia gave me my life back. It made me myself again. All the rubbish that had been spoken over me and into me began to fade away. Courage and confidence I thought I’d lost forever, I found once again. I returned home, still unsure, but very much at peace.
I realise I could have followed the sensible path. I could have stayed, sold the flat, never gone to Australia and waited to get a job. Or I could have applied for a permanent contract and perhaps I’d have that all important piece of paper that says PGDip in Community Education that I need to get a full-time job in this city.
But would I have learned so much, been as brave or met the friends I know now?