The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Nya Patton. Nya is spending the first part of her gap year in Brazil working on rainforest conservation with Iracambi.

As I sat down to begin this blog post, staring at the blank, ripe, untouched Google document, I struggled with what to title it. As the week is coming to an end, and my flight to Brazil draws in closer and closer, I realize just how scared I am. Not necessarily about the long plane rides, the countries I’ve never been to, or with languages I’ve never spoken, but about the bigger picture things. I guess I am mostly scared of just how this gap year, starting off with the same blank canvas as this Google doc, will change, shape, and develop me.

I have always been the kind of person to dive into uncertainty; there is something about the taste of adventure, or the not knowing where the road will lead, that absolutely excites me. Yet after departing the Global Gap Year Fellowship Summer Institute, and leaving the family of gappers that I had joined over those incredible two weeks, I had the intense realization that I was alone. I realized that the journey I was soon to embark on was mine and mine only. And although I would always be in touch with my gap year family, for the first time I had gotten myself into an adventure that was unlike anything anyone else around me was doing, or was even interested in. And for a split second I collapsed under that fear.

Somewhere along the long line of doing things just to add them to my resume and participating in activities just because I knew they would sound good on college applications, I lost my need to engage in things that pushed me out of my comfort zone. When I made the decision to take a gap year and to apply to the Global Gap Year Fellowship, I awakened the part of myself that thrives off of challenges and diving into the unknown.

When I returned home from the Summer Institute, I devoted time every day to preparing for my gap year, and thankfully I have slowly but surely eased some anxiety. I’m leaning fully into the fear and uncertainty that is soon to be my life, and I have wholly accepted that I may never feel ready for a journey such as this; but it is beautiful to push past that discomfort and embark on it regardless. Here is to change, growth, uncertainty, beautiful countries, beautiful people, and inspiring work. I may not be ready, but I sure am excited.