What Drove Me to Take a Bridge Year

Frantzia Theodat - Senegal


September 13, 2018

 

I was not ready to consider my future on my first day of senior year. I would walk down the halls of school and feel light; unaware of the fact I’d need to make major life decisions soon. It was childlike oblivion.

Most people would be happy to feel no sense of obligation to themselves or to the world. I, on the brink of a coming of a age journey was anxious. I was oblivious to what lied ahead for my future, but conscious of the fact I needed something to strive for. A purpose. I recognized that at a certain age, taking responsibility for my life was a necessity. I needed to take steps to control the way I lived my life.

In my search for wholeness, I went into deep self reflection, zooming in on key issues I needed to address to fully feel like I could take on the world.

One of the first things that came to mind was the environment I’d grown up in. Even though I was grateful to be in a position where I didn’t have to struggle too much in my life, I found that everything built around me was too cushy for me to grow into a fully functional adult. I needed to be away from my home to learn how to properly fend for myself. My family loves me, no doubt, but I found that living with them was stifling my independence and sense of discipline. I couldn’t have an easy access safety net if I wanted to grow. I needed an environment where I knew people would not be there to take care of me in the way my family did. Eventually, without this safety net, I would have to fend for myself. My childlike oblivion would turn into adult like awareness. I could learn to be self sufficient, fight for myself without someone acting as my authority figure and learn how to ask for help without becoming emotionally or physically dependent on someone. Knowing this, I knew I had to be away from home for a significant amount of time. I simply was not going to retain anything by staying.

Another thing was that after 12 years of schooling and 2 part time jobs, I realized I knew little about human nature. In my jobs, I had to cope with malicious coworkers and admin culture. I wasn’t ready or able to handle them at the time. I had to learn to cope with and address this issue by putting myself in a place where if I didn’t think, process and strategically address things like this when they came, I couldn’t do well. I needed a place where I would be able to control my actions and deal with the consequences.

The last and most close to my heart was this yearning to be firmly rooted in my African culture. I never learned much about who I was as a person and what that meant for my own black identity. I started to realize the importance of being bonded to one’s ethnic group. Not just for cultural practices, but for mental sanity.

After doing a lot of research, I found Global Citizen Year on a subreddit. It had everything I needed to grow in my bridge year. It mixed the right level of structure and independence to help fellows grow.

I didn’t know my purpose. I didn’t know what I would be doing in the future. I didn’t know how I wanted to represent my community. However, Global Citizen Year gave me a platform to figure all that out. I would be forced to analyze and think in ways I never had. I would have to take my head out of the clouds. I wouldn’t come up with an unsure dream, but have a plan set for me to do my life’s work. I would attain the confidence, independence, discipline and initiative needed to be who I desired.

Frantzia Theodat