Dare to be Different

Valerie Hurst - Ecuador


July 22, 2013

“So how long are you gone for?” he asked.

“8 months!”

The look of surprise is normal now from people asking about my bridge year. When they inquire if I’ll be okay staying that long abroad, I answer with a resounding yes. I also laugh a little bit; because each time I confidently say “I’m ready,” I get giddy knowing I’ve made the right decision.

Oddly enough, four months ago, in March, I still thought I was going straight to college. But then I got my letters back and… not good news. This devastated me: practically my whole academic life was spent striving to look good on college apps.

After days of moping, it was like a switch turned on in my head. Why did I need to go to college? I still wanted to, but the thought of immediately throwing myself into dorm life and late night essays left me with the overwhelming feeling of “EW.” Just because the one-way path to college is right for some people, didn’t mean it was right for me. Which was when I realized that for the first time in the whole making-big-life-decisions-after high-school process, I was finally listening to the voice that represents who I truly am.

And that voice was telling me it’s okay to be different.

I seek adventure, not getting lost on a strange campus. I crave foreign delicacies, instead of dining hall monotony. I relish in making new friends in Ecuador, and giving myself a chance to experience an unknown way of life that is not a dorm room.

Those things will come. But for now, I’m happy being different.

Valerie Hurst