Starting this post, I was more than tempted to dive into how incredible this past year has been for me; all the fun and wild things I’ve seen and done, the incredible friends I’ve made, and all the experience, knowledge and memories I’ve gained and will never forget. But the things I’ve done this year, although wonderful and what my blog consists of the most, aren’t nearly as important as who I’ve become and how I’ve changed. Even though I didn’t chose university right out of high school, I’m sure my peers who did can agree that your first year out in the real world and on your own, whether you’re at a college 10 minutes away from home or across the world, undoubtably changes you in so many different ways that even you don’t understand them all.
Now that I’m home, I’m getting pretty railed with questions on what my future holds, purely out of genuine curiosity or skepticism by my friends and especially from those who I know never originally agreed with my decision not to go to school. “What are you doing next?” “Are you going to school or do you plan to?” “What do you want to do?”
Sometimes I don’t want to deal with the interrogation, other times I’m more than excited to represent my decision to take time off as positively as I can. I want to impress the skeptics, prove to them I made the right choice, I did good things, I learned a lot, I’ve seen so much, yada yada yada. I hear myself quoting the “Gap Year” books I’ve read. I see the questions in their eyes and the expressions of support and understanding, or ones of suspicion, doubt, or even sadness for time I’ve lost or my young ignorance.
This would have, and did, make me doubt myself a year ago, because even I wasn’t sure of my choice or what it would do for me. Talk about change in myself: now it couldn’t bother me less. I’ve never been more confident in my choices, and even more important I’ve never been happier about my future. Thinking of my plans for the near future makes me smile and gets me excited. Just that fact alone pushes me further and makes my plans bigger. I know I haven’t had the life experience of any grown adult, and usually my critics only want what is best and they make me thrive and question myself, which refines my decisions in the most beneficial ways. I am sure, no matter what, one day I’ll look back and say “Ah, I could have done that better”, but at least I won’t be saying “Ah, I should have done that.” I don’t like my choices being thought of as young, naive or ignorant, but I can understand the perspectives of those who might think they are. The only mindset I can’t tolerate is when what I’m doing is considered a mistake.
One of the most important things I have come to realize is how free I am, how many opportunities are out there. And the most important thing I’ve learned is to take absolute and full advantage of it.
“What are you doing next?”
“Are you going to school or do you plan to?”
“What do you want to do?”
-My brother is getting married in two weeks, and I’m back to his home in Denver after the wedding to catsit during his honeymoon for three weeks with my friend. My plan for this summer is basic but important and revolves around saving money. Work, see friends and family, and work. Interviewing for jobs and mentioning I’ll be gone practically the first month of my employment really does not help. Other than mostly work, my goals are to get my scuba Dive Master, get my STCW Basic safety training for living onboard a ship, practice Spanish, and work on a conservation project I have underway in my area. After summer and visiting all my friends in school in August when they go back, my plans are flexible but definitely involving working at a dive shop to improve my diving skills and living and working in possibly Central America again for a little while. My big and most important plan is working on a yacht or ship come January. I would like to start working on one sooner but am adamant about being home for Christmas and know that would be unlikely if I hopped on a ship for a few months prior to December. September-December I hope to improve my marine skills, work, surf a little, and gain more knowledge and experience.
– Ah my favorite question. I see more schooling in my future, but not extremely soon. I find myself actually wanting to learn more; reading a lot more, listening to biology lectures, studying fish identification, etc. What I want to do does not particularly need schooling if you have the right experience and knowledge, but that is debatable on many ends.
– Of course the leading question, what do I want to do? To be general, what I do will always be involving animal advocacy, conservation and wildlife conservation, and public awareness on those subjects. My grand plan in 2015 is to live and work in Africa and begin doing what I truly love.