To Choose or Not to Choose

I applied to eight colleges during my senior year of high school. Over the course of four months I mailed out eight transcripts, sixteen letters of recommendation, and a plethora of college essays to various corners of the country. By March, I headed to my mailbox every day after school to check for any responses.

I got into five colleges, one of which was BYU. I was rejected from the rest: UCLA, Rice, and Duke. Ironically, these were the three schools that I would have chosen to attend before BYU. In fact, I took it as a sign from heaven when I received my last rejection letter from Duke University. (This sort of reasoning eased the pain of my wounded ego...)

But I've never regretted my decision to attend BYU. Deep inside my seventeen year-old heart I knew that I wanted to go to there. I denied it to my parents and especially to my friends, but I knew BYU was the right place for me. If I had to do it all over again, I would choose Brigham Young in a heartbeat.

Yet I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had chosen a different school. Or if I had gotten into UCLA, Rice, or Duke. How would I be different? Would my ambitions still be the same? Where would I be right now?

I entertained this thought this past weekend when I visited Duke University with my boyfriend. Justin graduated from Duke in 2005 and I thought it would be fun if he showed me around campus. We drove around East Campus where the freshmen live. We walked in the Gothic library where I marveled at the stone steps and the arched doorways. (It reminded me of England.) We sat in the gardens where I smelled the pink and white roses.

Duke University has a gorgeous campus full of green trees and grassy lawns and gray stone buildings. It's much more quiet than BYU; and in many ways, it fits me better than my alma mater ever will. But I know I followed my heart when I chose BYU and I will never regret that decision. I can admire the architecture and the landscape of Duke, but I will never have ask to myself "What if I went here?" I'm sure I would have had a lot of good experiences at Duke or at UCLA, but for some reason I belonged at BYU.

Six years ago, I chose the route that led me to the greatest amount of happiness. And now, I'm faced with another big decision. I feel like I've been plopped down into the Robert Frost poem where two roads diverged in a yellow wood. Currently, I'm standing at the fork in the road and wondering about which passage I should take:

One path is well-groomed, lined with birch trees and flooded with sunlight. The other road is a bit more rugged and a tad messier. I cannot see very far down this path, but I feel something great could await me at the end.

I cannot stand at the crossroads forever. I need to take my first step, but which path do I take? I can only hope that I will choose the journey that will lead me to the greatest amount of happiness. I can only hope that when I reach the end of this road, I will never look back and wonder: "But what if?"