You know when you’re young, like really young, with your messy hair and stuffed animals, and people ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?,” and you sit there for a second thinking about all the crazy possibilities of the things you could become before blurting out, “a superhero!” or “a princess, duh.” When I was young, I wanted to change the world – and still be a princess of course. I was fascinated by animals, people, and life ; I wanted to understand it all and explore every inch of the world.
Throughout high school, I was asked a number of times what I wanted to do after graduation. Sometimes my answer was simple, “A therapist, maybe a social worker.” But sometimes I’d say, “I just want to make a change.” Truth is, I’m not exactly sure what I want to do, how can anyone expect me to? I’m only 18, and I want to experience it ALL before choosing a career for the rest of my life. Here’s what I do know though, thinking about the world, about helping the people who exist in it, and changing their lives for the better, sets my soul on fire.
I remember learning about Civil Rights in my AP US History class and having this feeling of excitement, along with rage, and determination to try and fix all the wrongs in this world come over me. I knew I was meant to make a difference somewhere, somehow and I’ve never been more passionate about anything. Learning about individuals and their stories will never get old. There’s over 7 billion people on this amazing planet and I’m expected to stay put? I don’t think so.
Most people I’ve spoken to about my bridge year say something along the lines of, “well aren’t you scared?” So let me answer that for you. Weren’t you scared when you learned to ride a bike? Or what about when you moved out for the first time, were you nervous then? The thing is, great changes come from challenges and stepping out of your comfort zone, and I have always been inspired by a challenge. Of course I’m nervous, this is going to be my first time leaving the country, but my excitement outweighs the nerves completely. Just think, all that time you spent freaking out about your dad letting go of the bike for the first time, meant nothing once you got the hang of it, it became enjoyable, and you loved it.
That’s my plan – to fall completely in love with my bridge year : the people I meet, the places I see, and the person I become. I have been stuck in the same routine for years now, and I know the younger me would not approve, so now I’m days away from starting an incredible, life-changing journey and I couldn’t be happier. I’m swapping out the textbooks and hours of homework to live, and I don’t mean eat, drink, and sleep kind of live (even though I do love sleeping), I mean to be ALIVE, to be out in the world experiencing diversity, culture, and change. I’m more than ready to leave my mark everywhere I go, and to allow the people I meet and the events I go through, to leave their mark on me as well. I’m coming for ya Senegal!
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