Throughout our bridge year, GCY requires us to give a "speak up" at any one of our seminars. A speak up consists of a fellow standing in front of their cohort and giving a mini speech on whatever topic they prefer. I was chosen to give my speak up during the last seminar (TS3). I chose to do it on why I decided to take a bridge year and some of the lessons I learned throughout the year.
"I grew up in a fantasy island called Key Biscayne which I like to refer to as the Bubble. “The Bubble” is a world where dreams dwell on seven million dollar mansions neighboring the Atlantic Ocean, and where kids rapidly outgrow their innocence to conform to the high standards of society. The Bubble made me feel like an outsider looking in. However, the fact that I felt different did not stop me from following the money-oriented roads paved before me and apply the same materialistic values. As I grew older, I started to become childishly resentful when my parents were not able to give me the materialistic life I desired and surrounded me at the time; there was no way for me to compete with those around me in a society where 15 year olds received the latest model of a BMW as a birthday present, and 11 year olds wore mini Chanel bags and Prada sunglasses in order to mimic their moms. My 13 year old ignorant self was stuck in a money-oriented world of lies, without being aware that there was an entire world outside of this Bubble. However, five years ago I was forced to open my eyes to the face of reality and this vision of paradise turned out to be nothing more than a mirage, and it finally burst.
I was thirteen when my dad lost his job, and for around two years after that he was unemployed. Throughout this time I was put through an emotional rollercoaster. At first, this chaotic ride made me fluctuate between cycles of sadness and anger until my mindset completely shifted. At the time I was still living in the Bubble, but for the first time I realized how ungrateful everyone around me was and I began to hate the fact that I lived in a society dominated by money and financial matters. As every day passed I desired something more but I felt trapped inside a society that had managed to manipulate and blind me from worthwhile endeavors that did not include a trip to the mall. I felt that I was deprived from gaining a true sense of the world around me, but did not quite know how to escape.
After two stressful years, my dad was finally offered a job in California. My family and I moved out of the Bubble and into a new one called Irvine. On the first day at my new school, I had a conversation with a boy who came to the United States from Egypt in efforts to escape the civil war. In the midst of his story, I started to become aware of how irrelevant my own problems were in context of his struggle. And I began to notice how my own privilege caused me to be extremely ignorant towards what was going on in the world, cause if I am being honest (and it is embarrassing to accept this), but I was not even aware that there was a civil war in Egypt. After meeting this boy and having other various experiences, I began to tear down the greedy wall that society had built around me for so many years and wanted to learn more about the world outside of my bubble. This is when I made the decision to take a bridge year, with the intent to transform my bubble into a jumbled sphere of fascinating experiences and to gain perspective in the process. My bridge year with GCY has so far been the most meaningful and eye opening commitment of my life. Throughout these 8 months I have learned so much about myself and the world around me and I want to thank each one of you because you all took part in aiding my growth. Even though I still have a looot of knowledge to acquire and I am nowhere near where I want to be, my life journey has fostered my hope and desire that I can continue to broaden my horizons. As cliché as it may be, I now believe that everything happens for a reason and therefore, I am as thankful to have lived in the Bubble as I am to have burst out of its transparent edges. Even though I will probably not get the chance to live in a society where the possessions one has do not define his or her personality, I am glad I have learned to not take things for face value.
To end this speak up I would like to express to you guys that if there is ever anything you dislike about yourself, the power to change is solely within you. But there is also no way you are ever going to be able to change until you accept yourself, including all your faults and struggles. I’d like to share with you guys one of my favorite quotes from a song in Spanish which says, “Las nubes negras también forman parte del paisaje” which is translated to “Dark clouds also form part of the landscape.” So I advise you all learn to appreciate the dark clouds of your lives because I have found that when you do there will always be a bright and colorful outcome."