So this is me. The scary looking girl with the dark lipstick. 19 years old and about to take on the world.
I know I’m not abroad yet, and therefore posting on this blog right now seems premature and irrelevant, I know. However, it does seem relevant and on brand to open up about myself and what got me here seeing as my form of blogging throughout this year will be journal like and more self reflective (I think).
Now to the broad question of: What got me here? Why is a nineteen year old who has done an unfinished year of college doing leaving the country for 7 months? As is probably implied by now, the answer isn’t quite that simple.
After going through the rigorous two year challenge of receiving the International Baccalaureate Diploma alongside my high school one, I set off to attend Wake Forest University across the country from my home in Oregon. I thrived my first semester, both socially and academically. Because of this I thought I could handle overfilling my course load and going out for even more clubs and sports come spring semester… Obviously this combination proved fatal. As an immature 18 year old girl who had just been diagnosed with ADHD a mere year and a half prior and who had a history of anxiety + depression, I broke down completely. My grades tumbled downward and everything hit rock bottom when anxiety and workload kept me up for 62 hours straight. I became a hallucinating mess who, to no ones surprise except my own (for some reason I thought I could still pull through), ended up failing the organic chemistry exam I had the following day. Feeling absolutely defeated and completely worthless, I crawled into bed and stayed there for two weeks. Only getting up to walk to the end of the hall and grab food out of the vending machine, praying the entire time that no one would see me and try to talk to me. I even avoided my roommate, hiding under my blankets when she was in the room. I felt like a disgrace to everyone. Like I had let everyone down and I didn’t deserve to be with those who I called my peers at such a high caliber school. But I knew I couldn’t hide from my problems forever and one day I finally forced myself out of the comfort of my bed and into the agony of the public to meet with my student adviser who recommended I leave WFU temporarily on a mental health break approved by the school. And so I did so with full intention on coming back in the fall (this fall, the fall of 2017). However, my family and I soon realized that academic pressure does not help a person like me thrive and therefore it would not be logical nor economical for me to continue to attend Wake Forest.
After an awful couple of months at home struggling with the reality that had become my life I decided to take a gap year. To go abroad and not only experience something completely new and important, but also take the time to better myself and learn more about what I can and can’t do. Use the experience to self reflect and improve my mental strength. Thinking Beyond Borders’ Global Gap Year really provided exactly what I was looking for and that’s why I’m so excited to go to Guatemala, India, and Ghana starting September.