August 7, 2006

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?"


  1. I have no idea why but my husband is obsessed with Duke. Their basketball in particular.

    Anyhow, what are the two choices? are you in London yet? how is that going to be with the boyf back in the US?

  2. Ahhhh...well, I'll be sure to write a post about these two choices once I finally pick one!

    I'm not in London yet, which is good considering it's boiling over there and there's no AC! (But I should head there on September 21st.) And things with the boy are going very well!

  3. Duke is a gorgeous campus. We drove through the on-campus foresty area and visited the main chapel. It has the class of a university a century or two older.

    I don't want to assume anything, but is Justin LDS? If so, did he know a guy named B. Inouye at Duke (my old mission comp)?

    I can relate to the two roads business. I didn't get into Ivy League schools the first time around, and I think that much of my life has been me running back to that fork and trying again, if that makes sense, rather than moving on. (And I've got a decade on you, young lady!) :)

    I suppose that much of life is picking between two equally complex options. Maybe happiness comes from sticking to the selected course, and not getting too distracted or sidetracked by looking back.

  4. I feel the same way about BYU. I loved it there. Sure, there were a few weird things, but overall, I loved it.

    Good luck with your decision. I'm sure that the Lord will guide you onto the path He wants you to be on. The important thing is to try to find out what He wants you to do - and be willing to sacrifice what you want. A lot of times He doesn't make it so that we have to sacrifice what we want - but, sometimes He does, and it is always for our greatest good. Kind of like you getting into BYU.

    Good luck!

  5. John --- Justin is LDS. I'll have to ask him if he knows your old mission companion! And thanks for your advice about happiness. Looking back too much on the past only keeps us from progressing forward. I really should keep that in mind...

  6. hey. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on my recent political posts on my blog. There are a couple of them. Since you're much more informed when it comes to that kind of stuff, I'd like to hear your opinion.

  7. Did I ever mention to you that I could not access Blogspot over in China? It's good to be back home, but that is definitely one road which I'm grateful I took.