The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Fatima Konsouh.

Artists will continuously take a step back to analyze their work during their creative process. This step back allows them to compare their current piece to the idea or plan they originally had for it, the similarities, the differences, and what to do next to bring their piece to life. The step back, in that essence, becomes the most crucial step for both the art and the artist; without it the piece would not truly represent the artist’s vision. I would like to think of my gap year as my own personal step back to analyze my life – my past, as well as my aspirations, goals, and hopes for the future. Just as the step back gives the artist clarity for the rest of his or her work, I too hope that my gap year will do the same.

As individuals, we often never truly take a step back to analyze our lives and hopes for the future. I know I haven’t. It’s easy to continue on a strict path that we’ve set for ourselves – one that never strays away from formal education. For as long as I remember I’ve had my set plan: graduate from high school, graduate from undergrad, and move on to the workforce or go back for a graduate school. Never did I expect myself to stray away from that; however, looking back I find it hard to believe that was my original plan. Each day followed a “go, go, go” mindset between classes, extracurriculars, and even socializing with loved ones. I never took quality time to just relax without the pressure of school looming over my mind.

Although I am unsure of what is in store for me this upcoming year, I am filled with a mixture of excitement, fear, sadness, and an overwhelming amount of pure joy. Content with my decision and grateful for a supportive group of family, friends and an amazing cohort to depart with, I set out with an open mind and happy heart.