An Unplanned Gap Year: A Year in Review

Last weekend, my social media newsfeeds were inundated with the springtime event of the season for young 20-somethings: college graduation. A friend recently said to me, “It feels like we were just there.” And that gave me pause. I had to stop myself from automatically agreeing, the way we all do when anyone comments on the passage of time, and instead found myself disagreeing. The truth is, it makes me mentally fatigued to rifle through the memories I’ve accumulated between now and my own college graduation, though it happened just over a year ago. My friend remarked that that could be because I’ve done “so much” in between then and now.

I have?

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The thing about graduating with a cobbled together temporary plan is, time starts to move differently. We all dance with time, whether or not we want to. The box step is easiest—graduate, get a job, find a partner, settle down. And so forth. It’s basically blueprinted into our DNA at this point, but we all know that errors in coding can happen randomly, spontaneously. And so off I went. From Peru to Argentina to home (for Christmas) to Europe (for a wedding). To home. Having itchy feet in the suburbs might be one of the things that chafes the soul the most, but I’ve found keeping busy to be a soothing balm to my impatience to be off again.

Letting spontaneity move me worked while I kicked up my heels after graduation, but while learning the box step can get kicked down the road a bit more, I do owe it to myself to take inventory of this adult life I’m building. Traveling, freelancing, nannying, working as a wedding stylist and interning at a digital marketing agency are all things that, somehow, work as a foundation for the next stage of life. Amidst all of the transitioning, relationship-building, reflecting and good old hard work, I’ve learned a little bit more about what I want out of life, and what I value to pursue in my own.

I had a wonderful conversation this afternoon with a friend I made while traveling in Argentina. This friend happens to both live 20 minutes from me and also be a former runner. We’ve laughed over the fact that we definitely competed at the same meets in high school without ever meeting one another.

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Never one to be particularly spiritual, I have had to recognize that the universe engages with us as individuals more as we open ourselves to creating our own blueprint. For me, this engagement has manifested in shared coincidences with others that make me smile, and sometimes exclaim at their eeriness. As another friend sagely noted while I teetered on the verge of hyperventilation: “The world is small.”

This gap year that I’ve unintentionally taken has developed an intentional structure and I find myself more open than ever to the possibilities—both known and yet to be discovered—that the future holds. This lifestyle is demanding in that it forces me to be conscious and present—since I am, at this point, supervising myself, oh dear—but it has also reaffirmed for me the things I always knew I held dear: my relationships and my independence. The world is full of funny little paradoxes like that.

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Until next time xxx

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