With apologies to the rest of the Starks, the best character arc in Game of Thrones is Arya’s. Beginning way back in season one when her father Ned talks about how she’ll grow up to marry a high lord and rule his castle, and she looks at him and replies, “No, that’s not me”. It’s the beginning of an amazing journey for Arya.
That line stays with me, as it stays with many people. But will you listen? Just yesterday I opened a trade magazine and scanned their list of 40 under 40 up and comers, and thought of how this might have driven me at one point in my life, but no longer. Taking nothing away from the accomplishments of those forty, and I know a few of them, I’m happy to reply; “No, it’s not me”. I stepped away from the management track 12 years ago and haven’t looked back. Knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. Don’t live your life based on the expectations of others, choose your own path.
“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.”
– Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
It turns out the path I chose was full of twists and turns and hard climbs. The path itself diverged a few times along the way. Financially not as lucrative at times as the original, but time is a more valuable currency than income, and I’ve followed a path that gave me a hefty time raise over the previous path. And interestingly enough, the income hasn’t been all that far off the other path either. Keeping score of your life using income, position, clicks and likes is a trap. It’s nothing more than trying to meet the expectations of others. Be yourself, and grow organically. The path will get you there eventually, and even if it turns out to be longer and harder than anticipated, the view is better. And that will make all the difference.