The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Simone McFarlane. Simone is spending the first part of her gap year in Mexico working at the Centro para Los Adolescentes de San Miguel de Allende, or CASA.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love binge watching TV shows. This bad habit has acquainted me with many interesting characters over the years, but I have never related to anymore more than Chidi Anagonye. As Chidi navigates the afterlife on The Good Place, his anxious and over philosophical nature reminds me more and more of myself. Admittedly, I did not see our similarities at first. I honestly thought he was annoying. I only came to this realization when I was giving a convoluted answer in English class, to which my teacher told me that I’m such a Chidi. My teacher was right. Chidi over thinks every decision. He analyzes a ridiculous amount of perspectives, naturally leading to him think in circles all the time. What’s more, every time he can’t make a decision (which is often), he gets a stomach ache. As a person who often gets stomach aches when I’m stressed, I once again affirm that I’m *such* a Chidi.
It’s obvious how my overthinking nature has posed a challenge during my gap year planning process. Other members of the cohort, or Sarah, or Friedrike, will tell you that I ask their opinion about things almost daily. “Do you guys think this is too much money?” “How should I phrase this email? “How am I going to make friends?” These are only a few examples of my daily anxiety induced questions. They must be tired of it, but to quote a current favorite meme, imagine how tired I am of it! Recently, I feel like I can’t make any major decision without consulting the 10 different perspectives in my mind and my friends. It’s exhausting.
I’ve always been an overthinker, but this part of my personality has jumped out more since I started planning for my gap year. I suppose that makes sense, though. I’ve never planned anything so serious before. There are so many things to think about– is this an ethical placement? What are my actual motivations for doing this? How will I react when I’m challenged? Am I doing this wrong? That last question has crossed my mind so many times in the past months. There’s no clear cut way in taking a gap year, much less a global one. As a person who overthinks too much, and who is used to jumping through the right hoops to get the “right” grades, not having a template is daunting. As much as it is daunting, however, it is also exhilarating. Although I am a definite Chidi, I am also an independent person at my core. These are conflicting personality traits, I know, but I think the reason why this planning process has been so nerve-wracking is because it’s the first time in a while that I haven’t been confident making decisions on my own. As frustrating as that’s been, this experience has shown me that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to admit that you don’t have it together. At the same time, it’s also shown me that I need to trust myself more. While it’s great to consult my support team, sometimes trusting my gut is enough. I don’t need to ponder every detail of my existence. Of course I should not be completely impulsive, but I shouldn’t ponder every decision like it’s a great philosophical theory.
As I prepare to leave for Mexico, nervous as ever, I hope that I will carry this lesson with me. The Chidi part of me certainly has its place, but it doesn’t have the right to take over my life. A renowned group of philosophers once said, “All the women, who are independent/ Throw your hands up at me.” So hands up!