For me, my life up until the past year has been all about working hard and preparing myself for the next step in life. I always felt like I was checking boxes, looking ahead at what else I needed to get done to ensure I would set myself up for success.
Upon graduating and faced with the decision of “So, what’s next?” I came across an extremely broad horizon, something that felt foreign to me. My parents always told me I could accomplish whatever I wanted to, and become whoever I wanted to be. But what did this mean for me?
Due to the confines of the pandemic and how much I felt I missed out on in my last year of college, I knew a gap year was something I had to do. I have been in Spain for a month now, and am looking forward to a year of growth, experience, travel, and so much more. I feel that it is so important to be exposed to people who are different from you, who look different than you, who speak different languages than you, etc.
Interpersonal and intrapersonal challenges are essential for growth and personal development, and will give me a much more well-informed perspective on life going forward. Resilience, open mindedness, and an ability to listen to others non-judgmentally are skills that will be invaluable to me after my gap year.
Recently I watched a talk by Mark Cuban, an American billionaire and entrepreneur featured on the hit show Shark Tank, where he provided 22 year olds with the most simple, but honest advice. He says, “You don’t have to figure it out right now. You spent all this time paying to learn, and now you get paid to learn.” There is no such thing as a ‘perfect job’ but what is the most important, in my opinion, is the life long pursuit of curiosity and learning.
My dad always tells us, “Learn something new every day”, and to me, I think a gap year provides an incredible opportunity for just that. Cuban says, “You just need to go somewhere where you’re exposed to different ideas.” This is the one time in life where we truly are a free agent, and can go wherever we want, and do whatever we want. My hope is that my experience in Spain allows me to do just that, while learning something new every day.