Being Brave and Overcoming

(Originally written in February 2021 by MariaJose Ladera)

There have been many moments when I have been brave. I believe they all stem from the moment that I decided to take a gap year.

When I decided to take a gap year and told people about what I was going to do, I received some positive comments, some negative comments about how people become lazy during that time, or some questions asking about what it was.

Those who, either had questions about it or thought it was a year to do nothing, surprised me. I thought everyone knew what it was and understood that it is a year to get to know yourself better by going through new experiences such as solo traveling, backpacking, or even getting a job. I guess there are more horror stories going around of students taking a gap year and never going back to school than of students who do complete and graduate from college. This led me to believe that by choosing to take a gap year, I was not only breaking social norms and being productive, but also bettering myself by making more independent and brave choices.

By taking a gap year, I have had many opportunities to be kind, like this one time at work in December. I remember it was a busy day at work and my manager had put me behind the cash register. I was helping an older couple exchange a purchase they had made back in Louisiana. The lady had unluckily received two right shoes and two other pairs that were the wrong size. The transaction took a lot longer than anticipated because the lady not only wanted to make sure each shoe fit her perfectly but she also had a bad leg and used a cane to help her walk. In the end, she left the store happy because her exchanges were successful and she was also able to buy some Christmas gifts for her family. Before she left, she had thanked me for being patient and kind the whole time. It warmed my heart when she said that.

But my whole gap year isn’t as amazing as it seems, there have been times where I have failed. For example, a small goal I had at the beginning of my gap year was to work on my time management. At first, it didn’t go so well, but once I got into a good routine, everything went along smoothly. Being late is a problem that I know can be overcome; I know I will have to fail and overcome those failures multiple times to finally have it set in stone.

Through this opportunity I have had the chance to be kind to others, fail, and bounce back from failure as a stronger person. I am glad that I took this gap year because it has led me through a path of learning and understanding that has helped me become a better person.

Published by Warren Oliver

CRE Associate Director for Global Programming

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