Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Gap Year in Review: Change is Good.

I’ve been sitting in my new (and temporary) bedroom all day thinking how to put a post together talking about my time out of education. How do I summarise 20 months of working and travelling and adventures into one post? I can’t, realistically. So we’ll just talk about something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

My time out of education has taught me a lot and changed me as a person without a doubt. My stepmum even today commented on how different I was to the girl I was 2 years ago, about to go to University thinking it would be the best years of my life and would make everything better.

Well. It didn’t exactly go like that.

One Term. That’s how long I managed before all of the mental health crap I had been burying and burying throughout my GCSEs and A Levels came bubbling to the surface. It started off with bouts of sadness and self-hatred amongst other things. As I was leaving University, the crippling anxiety started that took over my life for six months. I was seeing a therapist for my grief at the time but we ended up mostly talking about my panic attacks.

And then I went to America. Three whole months of sun, summer and camping. Sounds great right? Well it was those things. But there were also tears, work reports, fighting and a lot of soul searching. My time at Camp was something I am eternally grateful for because it was what I needed, but it wasn’t all fun and games. And it was only after camp that I realised what it was that had been bothering me for so long.

I was completely stuck in the past. Long story short, and I’m sure I will make a more in depth post about this at some point, my mum died of cancer when I was 15 years old. She was my best friend. And I wanted to make her proud, even if she wasn’t here anymore to physically witness it. I wanted to be the girl I was when she was alive; bubbly, outgoing, lots of friends and very active. Since she passed away I had become more introverted and started staying in more talking to my friends online than going out on hikes and horse riding and all sorts.

I went to camp with all these expectations of making her proud, being a specialist counsellor who knew her stuff. It became apparent very quickly that after 4 years of barely being around horses, my knowledge was lacklustre and not up to scratch. They were pretty okay about it to be honest, offering me to change positions and when I look back on it I was rather rude. And it was because I felt like a failure, like I’d let her down and couldn’t be the person I was.

I know now that people grow. We change and develop and it’s just a part of life. Growing away from old friends, old hobbies and haunts is natural and perfectly okay. Yes there are things I miss about my old self and life, but things now aren’t so bad. I’m definitely not as ignorant as I once was, I’m far more confident and happy to spend time with myself too, and I’m also part of an awesome bookish community. I’m far more laid back than I was at the start of my time off (probably because I haven’t had a ridiculous essay deadline in 20 months!) and I like to think I’m a lot less judgemental of people than I was. Personal growth isn’t always something I’ve been able to deal with very well, constantly nostalgic for the past and my life before my mum died. But I know now that change is good, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, and I’m proud of who I am today.

The next time I write a post on here, I’ll be in a dorm room in a small city in the middle of the country I’ve visited approximately once. I know now that University isn’t going to be the best thing ever, that all those wild expectations I used to have won’t necessarily come true. But it’s a new chapter and I’m excited to see where it takes me.


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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.