it's a question i've heard endlessly since my final flight touched down at dulles, in the ensuing weeks when i quickly went back to normal almost-college kid on a normal almost-college summer.
"are you glad to be back?"
am i happy to be home, done with my year of nomadism, my year with either the privilege or the burden of never being tied too long to a place? or am i already restless and ready to see more?
it's likely a balance of both.
it's funny. it's almost like this could be last summer in the blink of an eye. i'm home, working, hanging out with friends when i have time, practicing tae kwon do, eating dinners with family, always intending but never quite realizing big projects like room reorganizing and reading the whole english canon. in a way, i wish it were last june - so many unknown cool places and experiences and people coming up, looking forward to so many things and not even knowing what half of them are yet. but life is also even better now. i have those behind me, i've seen those incredible places, made friends with those impressive people, accomplished everything i set out to do and more. i'm a black belt, i speak french and perfect spanish and even attempted wolof, i can navigate senegalese dirt roads and argentinian public transport and french train stations with ease. i love everything i got out of this year.
for a while now, looking forward has been just a series of exciting plans coming up. of course part of that excitement was that i was on the road, thriving on my ability and opportunity to land in a new place with a new purpose every few weeks. but despite my insatiable wanderlust, i'm equally excited for school and i see no reason to drop that fresh outlook. life is exciting! there are so many cool things coming up! even if the present seems mundane or i don't even know what is in store yet.
looking back, choosing a gap year was one of the hardest decisions of my life - much more challenging than picking a college - but i can't imagine it any other way. i knew i would have regretted not taking one - and this year was all about living without regrets. better to seize the opportunity now, embrace "yes," than live the rest of my life thinking wistfully, "i wish i'd taken a gap year," with a pang of jealousy in addition to a surge of happiness for anyone i meet who's taking one. (granted, i still feel both of those. can i take a couple more gap years?)
heading off to school is not so intimidating anymore - just another exciting adventure in a whole string of them, and i'm totally prepared. (though i may have forgotten everything i know about calculus, which is stressful.) i'm a little apprehensive about going in with peers who were just last month donning prom gowns and high school graduation caps. that seems like many moons ago, many iterations of my self since. i would be a completely different person if i'd gone straight to college. i'm sure i would have been happy, but i know that with this year behind me i'll be happier still, more confident and self-assured.
(...even if i'm going to have an identity crisis over the social acceptability and/or winter-weather practicality of gap year pants. in some ways, i'll be a gap year kid forever.)
though i'm publishing it a bit late, i wrote this post on june 29, 2014, exactly one year to the day since creating this blog. i've come so far and learned so much, but i'm still me. and even if i'll never be totally glad that it's over, i'm so glad to have this blog at least partially documenting what i've been up to.
i know i'm so fortunate to have the chance to take a gap year at all, and i'm constantly overwhelmed with gratitude for every opportunity i've been given this year. no matter my struggles, life couldn't be better.
p.s. this post, finished on the exact anniversary of my very first blog post, is intended to be my last reflection post on my gap year blog, but i still have a couple more posts in mind with various photos and things. when i get time!