The Pathways of Life – How to Know Which Road to Follow

I have found myself again at the crossroads, staring down the many pathways of life, but without a clue of which road to take, which life choice to pursue. One road led to a stable and respectable career, and sure it was a safe choice, but it was hardly ambitious. Opposite this was another road, but it was a long stretch.

It meant wildly chasing after a childhood dream of stardom, which after all these years I couldn’t help but shake off. Every time that I finish watching a truly incredible film or listening to an extraordinary album I get caught up in a sense of euphoria, and feel a burst of energy that screams at me to forget everything else and run down that road. But when the adrenaline soon fades and it feels like an impossible feat once again, I find myself back at the crossroads, contemplating what the hell I should do with my life.

We all have such boundless potential and are inspired by so many things that we love to talk and joke to each other about and endlessly analyse, like it’s the most important thing in the world at that moment. Be it the sport hero that you’ve always admired, your favourite band who’s albums you’ve listened to over and over again, or the actors you love watching in every film they crop up in. Even people at the top of their game will sing praise for the individuals that inspired them to take on their career choice.

With Bob Dylan it was Woody Guthrie, with Stephen King it was H.P. Lovecraft, and with Quentin Tarantino, well it was pretty much every film that he ever saw, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Because we are all fascinated by the achievements of others and influenced by the things that we love, and yet hardly any of us actually follow suit and get anywhere near these dreams of ours, or even feel brave enough to share them with other people. But even if we did decide on pursuing one of them, how can we be sure that we’re making the right decision?

When I was coming close to finishing my Sixth Form studies I, like everyone else, had to make an important decision to decide what I wanted to do next. And at the time it was obvious, I just wanted to do something to do with film. And I had a great time doing exactly that at university, I really enjoyed the course and was passionate about the subject, but once I finished walking down that long path into university and out, I soon realised that I had perhaps chosen a course that wasn’t wholly practical.

Scriptwriting interested me immensely, and it’s still something I would love to do, but a degree in the subject didn’t exactly ensure me a job anywhere. At the very least I would likely have to find a completely unrelated entry-level job to fund myself whilst I wrote my scripts; meaning that I would have to work as something I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about and that probably wouldn’t pay well, just so maybe, maybe I could sell a script.

We all have to sacrifice to feed these dreams of ours: a modern-day rock musician for instance will find that it’s immensely difficult to get anywhere without any production and recording tools, a decent computer and expensive equipment. So when we can’t achieve our dreams without having to fund them in some other way, one begins to wonder what is more important – following a passion to a dream job, or pursuing another road to one that will provide you with more money.

You may be doing something less stimulating, but that extra money would allow you to live comfortably and be able to go on more holidays, to regularly treat family and loved ones, and to simply not have to worry about everything so much. Sure family and loved ones will say that they would be proud of you for following what you love doing, but when the money achieved from working in business or banking would surely be greater, would it be more selfish to follow a road that leads to something you’re more passionate about in that case? One that doesn’t provide as well?

This is how I feel, for at least now anyway, when I stand here surrounded by pathways, veering off separately into their own horizons. And I am standing here dwarfed by the options at the crossroads without a clue of which road to choose to go down, which one to follow guns blazing and at full steam, and with enough certainty that when I come out of the other end that I won’t have to look back once again down a long, winding road.

For if I were to follow any one of the many other pathways that lead back into university education and a respectable job, it would mean another three or four more years of my life solely walking down just one single road, battling once more for good grades, spending countless late nights researching again for assignments and, of course, an ever-increasing mountain of student debt will slowly add to my existing one and pile up further, and I will one day have to find a way to conquer it somehow.

Because after following my road into university, I looked back and felt that I had gone so very far away from where I started when I was at my last crossroads, where I had left other ambitions behind. These ambitions I either laugh about now as premature conceptions or have completely forgotten about. Like how I spent years of my teen life feeling that I wanted to pursue acting only to later decide that it was far from my main passion.

But I won’t allow myself to regret any of the choices I made back when I was younger, like when deciding what to study at higher education. For I am at another crossroads now and I can only look ahead, anything else would surely be defeatist. After all,  these life choices form us into the adult human beings that we become and they stand boldly as a sincere decision that we made at one point in our life, no matter how brief.

Still, when we are all grown up, we can’t simply think about what we’re really passionate about, without considering whether it is a realistic and viable choice. So it can be very difficult to decide on what is right and which is the correct road to take. Yet, in my experience, we don’t always choose our pathways; for sometimes they choose us. Out of the blue, things can come up and, out of nowhere, simply steer your life into another, unforeseeable direction.

In my case, the thing that swept me up off of my feet, spun me around in several directions and dropped me off at another place in life, was all too obviously, love. And not just any old love, but one that took me across the seas, where the roads veer off in directions that are strange and alien to me.  Though with a whole new language to learn, my pathways at first seemed a lot narrower, broken down and closed off, but I realised that they will open up for me once again as soon as I get better with the language or when one of applications finally reaches the right person and I land an English job.

This isn’t to say that I regret my pathway here, because spending so much time in a new country with someone I love and being able to enjoy so many new experiences, holidays and culture is definitely has been an incredible experience that I never want to do end. It’s only disheartening when landing an interview for an entry-level job is a massive task within itself. But I know that something will come around, it always does.

So here I have been sharing my dreams. How I want to become a writer, a film director, a musician, and so many other things, perhaps even a videogame designer. But I realise that the paths to these dreams await me at my next crossroads after I have spent some time working here, and maybe by then I will have realised which road I most want to follow, and that’s completely fine with me. I was 17 when I hastily scribbled out and sent off an application before tuition fees suddenly rose up and decided that being a scriptwriter was what I wanted to be. I am now 23.

23 years old and evaluating the many pathways of life that lay ahead to me. I’m young and I still have a lot of years left to achieve the many dreams I have. Which is why I hope that whatever path I choose to go down has side roads, because there’s so many things I want to be or feel that I should try my hand at before I’m gone, that I can’t possibly afford to be one-track minded. Though, we can only walk one step at a time. One path has to come first, and be our golden road, our promised path, or whatever you wish to label it.

And that’s the problem that I can’t seem to resolve. There are so many pathways in life that we can go down, and we all have to decide on just one somehow and watch as all the other ones slowly disappear from our view and crumble away behind us. But maybe that’s the beauty of it:

Not knowing.

With the infinite possibilities of life opening up to us at our crossroads, the first step taken, no matter where to, how sure in it you are, and when and how it happens, is one that only you can take. And it is beyond brilliant.


I was inspired to write this blog posting after watching the TV series, Master of None, which starred Aziz Ansari as Dev Shah, a 30-something commercial actor living in New York, who’s trying to form a future for himself, whilst struggling to keep up relationships.

It’s a hilarious and charming comedy, which draws on second generation ethnic problems, such as how Dev struggles to get an acting gig without having to put on a stereotypical Indian accent. And a great supporting cast, which to my surprise, included H. Jon Benjamin of Archer and Bob’s Burgers fame.

Here is its official synopsis, courtesy of Netlfix:

New Yorker Dev takes on such pillars of maturity as the first big job, a serious relationship, and busting sex offenders on the subway.

Poster image sourced from: Collider.com

With its interestingly told episodes structured around a central theme and title, such as Parents, Mornings and Indians on TV, I really thought it was a fresh of breath air in Netflix’s programming, and for me, up there with shows like Stranger Things and Jessica Jones.

As well as Dev’s journey, what really inspired me was a beautiful, short poem by Sylvia Plath that was featured towards the end of the series called The Fig Tree.

Whilst I would encourage everyone to watch the show on Netflix, I would also like to share a very accessible comic strip of the poem here, which is wonderfully illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils.

2013-09-12-plath

 Online comic sourced from: The Fig Tree – zenpencils.com

You’ll have to see for yourself how it’s used in Master of None, but I thought it was brilliantly executed and really impactful as read by Dev near the end of his journey.

Gav of Zen Pencils adapts many inspirational quotations from cultural icons such as David Bowie to geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci, and, in perhaps my favourite comic of his, Bill Watterson – author of Calvin and Hobbes:

Bill Watterson – A Cartoonist’s Advice by Zen Pencils

So feel free to check out more of his work too! The one about Bill Watterson is also really relevant to this topic of self-worth, life decisions and aspirations, as well as being fantastically illustrated in loving homage to Calvin and Hobbes.

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