Advice from a New Me

It took some time for me to solidify which piece of advice I wanted to write about. One year ago, I would have soaked up any and every piece of advice someone currently on their gap year would give me. I was so confused, unsure of myself and my plans, and stressed.

I am lucky enough to have gone on a structured gap year program with activities, internships, communal living, and educational opportunities. Although I have gained so much from these structured attributes, my advice is applicable to any and all gap year experiences. First and foremost, I think you’ve made the right decision about what your life is going to look like over the next academic year. Especially with COVID, there is no reason to rush straight from high school to college. You deserve the opportunity to explore the world and get a taste of how you fit into it.

As for my concrete advice, I strongly suggest that you look at everything you do considering the question “does this call to me?” There are so many things in life that are pre decided; which core courses you have to take, homework, taxes, etc. My gap year has given me the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate what really “calls” to me. For example, I was interning at a local nonprofit for a few months and wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I thought I would be. I gave it a chance, reevaluated, and decided that being in the kitchen and sharing what I create is really what called to me in that moment. With the help of my program staff and peers, I was able to amicably stop working at the nonprofit and start interning in the kitchen of a local long-term care facility for people that are HIV+.

Another time I used this advice, was when navigating social situations. I wanted to take every opportunity that I could to hang out with my friends and be active in nature. At a point, I became burnt out and was not feeling like myself. When approaching social situations, I was able to think: “Do I have the social battery for this?” and “I wonder if going into Downtown Portland calls to me, or if hanging around the house calls to me more.”

Thinking about my decisions from this perspective has made me a much happier and secure person. Without going on my gap year, I don’t think I would be at this point at this time in my life.

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