Alyssa Mages, CVO26 June 2020
“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
This poem is permanently etched in my memory as it was read to me since early childhood by my Gramps and echoed by my mom over the years. Despite this, I focused my youth heavily on fitting in and didn’t take time to find myself. Now there were some exceptions, I joined the synchronized swim team and continued competing/coaching until just a few years ago. This is not your typical sport (go ahead and try to argue with me that it’s not a sport – you’ve been warned). When I was at home and with my family, I was weird and wonderfully openly, me. But when I left my ‘safe zone’ I reverted to keeping everyone convinced that I was ‘normal’, and that my goals/ideals matched theirs.
Onward to my university years and my self-expression abilities exploded, in the best ways possible. Knowledge was pouring in – life lessons, scholarly pursuits, you name it, I went for it. I started a synchro team because there wasn’t one. Couldn’t decide where to travel abroad (yes, I realize this is a very entitled statement – bear with me for a bit, I keep evolving) so I elected to do Semester at Sea and see the world. I fell in love and in doing so got broken, more than once. I put the pieces back together, made some friendships that now 20+ years later are stronger than ever, and I was on my way to my career goal of being a Marine Biologist and embracing the free-spirited, creative person that I really was.
Fast forward to 2007 and a new outlook. Instead of swimming with the whales, saving them. Vet school here I come! But the universe had other plans… While I knew I wanted to be a mom from my youth, I had NO idea how completely heart & soul-changing this parenting journey would be. So cross Dr. Mages off the list, what now? New goal – become a veterinary nurse. Let’s do this.
Just kidding, remember all that synchro, traveling, and living? Time for a partial knee reconstruction! So, now what? How about sales? Let’s try it, and whoops, nope not a good fit. Rethink this, new goal – teaching! Fabulous; this fit, I mean REALLY fit like it was made for me, but something was missing. Ah, that’s it, I, still love being a nurse and all the medical/clinical aspects. Great, let’s work on a new role in a practice that combines BOTH – fantastic! Hang on, remember those knees? Another surgery, another reconstruction. Back to the drawing board, what am I going to do now?
Here’s the universe coming through for me again. Finding my business partner, Caitlin, in a similar path turmoil, and EVT is born out of our processing this change together. A chance to combine every skill, every thread I’ve picked up in my life, and weave a beautiful new tapestry.
Amidst all these detours, I also had to do some tough self-work. Recognizing I’d held onto an image of who I should be and what I should do for so long and that it was time to let it all go (cue soundtrack). Realizing that I’d been silent or reserved on too many important issues and the moment had arrived for these habits to end. Gone was the filter, in its place a megaphone. Away with preconceived notions, time to stand up and stand out.
I took the easy path, followed when I should have led, and kept silent when I should have been shouting at the top of my lungs. It was only when I started carving a new route, shrugged off the uniform of what was worn by so many of us & expressed my inner voice that things started to change. I am aware that what I’ve been given is far more than many. I see the advantages I have that others do not. However, being aware and seeing is not acceptance. It is a recognition that, yet another road is opening before me, and us. It’s rocky, the light is far ahead, and we’ll need to support one another along the way. But this path like the one in Frost’s poem is the one that will make a difference so it’s the one I’m choosing. Come with me, won’t you?