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The Path Unknown

Rachel Saylor

As I trudged along my path of becoming a counselor/therapist, I began to not feel as attached to the idea as I once had. My thought was that this was due to the fact that I had been out of school for a couple of years now and that it was inevitably going to be more difficult to push myself to go back to school, especially after getting wait listed the first time I applied to grad school. I felt defeated after being wait listed, which is what made me take a step up the hill and look down at the path I was just dragging my feet along in the dirt. Although I left the immediate trail, I began walking in an uncharted path beside my old one. I acquired thorny scratches, bruises and the occasional poison ivy as I ventured through this part of the forest, but I knew there was more for me than the clear marked path I had so determinedly been marching down for so long. As I spent a couple of years rambling about the forest creating my own unmarked path that I am confident no one would be able to find or follow, another trail opened up to me. This trail was better marked and cleared than what I just came through, but the terrain was much more difficult to hike along, and I knew it would test my endurance compared to the easy, clear and flat path I was initially taking. I am always up for a challenge though, so I said, "Well hell, I'm gonna do it," and then I started up this new trail. I am only in the beginning stages, and I have no idea what other paths will intersect the trail. I will have to make new choices at those moments, but for now, I am hustling to get my ass moving along this steep, rocky, but oh-so-rewarding trail ahead.

One night last October, I lay in bed with my husband at his grandparents beach house in the worst, most excruciating pain I've ever been through. He was so sweet and stayed up with me as I struggled for my 8th night in a row to sleep due to the ongoing pain I had been experiencing. To distract myself from the pain, I babbled on about the latest young adult fiction novel I was plowing through. When I reached a stopping point in my monologue, my husband looked at me and said, "If I could take your pain and carry the burden for you, I would." That was one of the sweetest things I had ever been told and then it hit me. What if it was possible to carry another's pain for a duration of time or even forever?  As I shared this idea with Austin, he had a determined look in his eye when he told me, "You can write a young adult novel about this concept, I know you can." The excitement and happiness I felt as the idea sunk in was immense, and I knew in my heart that I could do it. In that moment, it didn't matter that I had no idea what was going on in my body and I felt like I would never feel better; I had a new dream and I was going to start the hike on this journey of writing. In that moment, I chose to stop rambling through the woods and take this new unknown path and although I was thrilled, I was also scared as hell.

Take the scary path change to do what you love, what excites you. Know that it's going to be really hard and sometimes you will want to throw your pack off, abandon the rough path and seek out the easy road, but also know that that won't be as rewarding in the end. Imagine doing a little 1 mile flat hike one day and how you feel accomplished afterwards. Then imagine doing the entire Appalachian Trail and how much more incredibly rewarded and accomplished you will feel after completing such a beast. Think of how many more memories accompany such a hike and how much more you will grow and learn during such a trek. Envision all of the different people you will meet, situations you will encounter and changes you will find within yourself on such a big adventure and chose that path instead of the easy, straightforward one or the chaotic, meandering one you could so easily find yourself on. Take the plunge, make shit happen and be a pioneer for others to look up to and be encouraged by. Inspire others to believe that they too can take on the challenge and live a rewarding life.