Need Help Understanding the Meaning of Certain Topics in a Writing Contest

I wish to write an entry for a writing contest. The contest requires a piece of 2,000 words, and gives the following four themes or topics that I may choose to write on. But because English is not my mother tongue, I am having difficulty understanding the topics. The topics are:

The Meaning of Me
Paved or Unpaved Ways
Because This is What Matters, and
The Bravest Place on Earth.

I am particularly mystified by the second one, “Paved and Unpaved Ways.” Please help me by explaining what you think these topic titles mean, and what you think they are asking for.


Paved and Unpaved Ways? I’m reminded of Frost’s famous poem:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

In other words, “paved and unpaved ways” could refer to a well-worn path and a way less taken, respectively. It’s metaphorical.

The paved way is where most people go; it’s the safe way. The unpaved way is where the trailblazers and risk-takers go. One might think of the “unpaved way” being taken by inventers, entrepreneurs, and others who take risks and “think outside the box.”

Stoney and Daniel are correct in their comments: I’m not providing a standard definition; I’m giving a possible interpretation. You won’t be disqualified from this contest because your essay doesn’t address the topic in the right way. I’d even guess that a unique interpretation that catches the judges by surprise might count in your favor.

As for the others:

  • The word meaning has two meanings, so the first one could be interpreted as The Definition of ‘Me’, but I’m guessing most would interpret it as roughly What Defines Me

  • Because This is What Matters could mean something that is important to you, or something that should be important to all of mankind

  • The Bravest Place on Earth could refer to any geographic region whose people have shown strong mettle in the face of adversity.

Source : Link , Question Author : Syed Sahl , Answer Author : J.R.

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