I think there is an odd expectation that when you take a gap year it’s all fun and games. You’re traveling, living away from home, you don’t have work; life seems a lot more open. Well I am here to tell you that this year has been far from easy. There have been really great moments, but there have also been terrible moments.
I want to be honest about the year I have had so far. I felt it has been hard for me to fully express my realities. I didn’t want to worry friends and family at home, but I also wasn’t sure hoe to express my emotions. These feelings couldn’t be posted on Instagram, they could be a Facebook status. I was too far into my own head to even think about writing a blog. I just sat there with them. I sat for a few days, a week or two, a few months. Now here I am ready to share, to be more authentic about my year.
The first month was super exciting, everything was new. I new family, new friends, a new city to discover. All exciting things. But after that first month things changed. I remember being annoyed about the small things about Floripa. There were small things that made me upset. One of the hardest things for me was living with the new family. It wasn’t that they aren’t good people, because they are the kindest people I have ever met. The problem was me, I wasn’t used to so many people. I lived alone with my mom the two years before GCY, and suddenly there were four other people I was with. It was a really rough transition.
As I started noticing all the things that I didn’t like I started pulling away. I was less invested in the things I was doing. I felt less inclined to care. I lost a lot of sight into why I was here. I stayed in my room and isolated myself from a the people around me. I didn’t want to be around anyone. I spent hours alone sitting with my thoughts. They weren’t good thoughts. There was a lot of regret, like a lot of it. Most of myself was feeling stupid for thinking this would be a good choice. I wanted to quit, I wanted to go home. I didn’t want Brasil, I didn’t want anything here, I just wanted Chicago. But there was a small sliver that still wanted this. A small part of myself that said keep going, push through these thoughts. The fight to find happiness wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but slowly but surely I did. I started not to isolate myself and taking walks, going out more, and sharing my feelings with other fellows. Small steps to find the reasons why I am here. Through the small things that I enjoyed, I found my way out of the darkness that I was in.
Now four months later things are much better, but there are still bad days. This year is a not a vacation, it isn’t all fun and games. Going from an intense schooling experience to having a large amount of free time was hard. I went from long days filled with lot of activities, to having a lot of unstructured time. I struggled a lot with finding things to fill my time with, and as a result I felt lost. I also felt a constant sense of pressure to prove people wrong about gap years. I now realize I don’t need to prove anything to anyone but myself. I deleted my social media to help me live more in the moment, and stop comparing my year to others.
I wouldn’t change anything about my experience so far. It has helped me become a stronger person, and I understand myself better. I believe that had it not been for my three week state of stillness I wouldn’t fully appreciate the experience in the same way that I do today. It took hitting the lowest low for me to fully understand how great this opportunity is. I am thankful to everyone around that picked me up when I fell. Now with two months left in the year, I look back to October and I am even more thankful for what happened. My time left in Brasil is shrinking, and I am thankful for everyday here because I truly appreciate this now.