This I Believe

Amber - Muskegon, Michigan
Entered on September 5, 2007

27 March 2007

Taking the Road Not Taken

I believe in forging one’s own path.

My mother is full of infinite wisdom. She is the smartest woman on earth, as all mothers are. But sometimes, she is just wrong. “He is an alcoholic,” she tells me, justifying whatever horrible words my father has spoken, horrible actions he has taken. “It’s the alcohol speaking. Alcoholism is a disease, not a choice.” She, too, is an alcoholic. Mom and Dad, both of my grandfathers, my uncles, my brother and my sister. They have all been infected with the disease of alcoholism. It’s probable that alcoholism has invaded my little limb of the family tree too. But I don’t buy into this lifestyle.

I choose to watch movies on Friday nights instead of going to the bar. I buy my friends birthday cards instead of rounds. I drink Mountain Dew to get a buzz, not vodka. It seems at times that I am the rebellious one, that I don’t fit in. I believe, though, that it is my choice. I do not want my life to be controlled by the bottle, so I walk down the unpaved road. You see, I have seen where the path of alcoholism goes. I have seen the dead end, the shovel and the hole without a ladder, and I would rather forge my own way.

In four weeks, I will be the first person in my family to have gone away to college and attained a degree. I will be the first to move out of Michigan to start my career and the first to have a job before I have children. In my family, the path I have chosen is unique. I believe that everyone chooses. Even alcoholics choose which roads they take, which mountains they conquer, which bridges they burn and which they build.

However, forging is not easy. My mother cries at the thought of me moving in April. My father does not pay too much attention to anything I do these days, and I wonder if he even notices that I am not around. My siblings have criticized my decisions, saying that I put myself before my family. If I loved my family, I would never move so far away. I would not have gone away to college or studied in other countries. But what they fail to realize is that they, too, have traveled down their chosen pathways. Criticized, they have taken risks, made choices, and been firsts.

For me, the future is uncertain. I don’t know what lies at the end of my road. My family has given me few examples to follow, and my relatives can offer little advice. But I choose to forge on anyway. I do not want to be the alcoholic, the high school dropout, the sixteen-year-old mother, the drug addict, the chain smoker, the racist, the street fighter, the cell mate. I must try something new. And I believe that taking the road less traveled by will make all the difference.