The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Val Orozco.

Identity changes with every other person you encounter in your life.

  I am the oldest daughter of a large family of immigrants. My younger siblings and I are all very different– my parents comparing us to the seven dwarves from Snow White. Everyone has a hobby or personality trait that makes them unique. Our activities range from sports to the arts; practicing our faith to debating ethical and moral dilemmas; from serving our communities to running away from the kitchen whenever mom and dad ask who’s doing the dishes that night.

I think that personality comes from different things in your life; your parents, your school, your position of privilege, financial status, talents, faith, hobbies, etc. People can influence one another to change the expression of our personalities in different manners as we are surrounded by distinct groups of people. We want to be included and part of the whole. We take personality and love language tests to better understand our interest and our self-expression– we put ourselves into groups and categories with others so we don’t feel alone, but our uniqueness carries as we can become part of more than one group simultaneously.

As a person with a type 2 enneagram The Giver personality with a huge amount of extroversion, I’ve always lived for other people. I like to listen to stories and make memories with those close to my heart. I am always part of a team; a collective, a family, or a group that builds each other up while having the time of our lives. Now that this chapter of schooling is over, my groups and categories that I had established myself in were dismantling– everyone had to grow up and find their own lifestyle independent of the one we had accustomed ourselves to.

I’m taking a gap year for myself. I have met awesome incredible people in my lifetime that have shaped me into who I am today. They have passed wisdom to me in the means of a lesson plan or a friendly hello. Every individual that has crossed my path has left an impact in one shape or another, and those moments have prepared me to take this step for my own self-growth.

I know this gap year is going to be very lonely. One of my goals is to be able to find comfort in my own thoughts and work on myself for myself. My family, friends, teachers, and cohort have shown me so much love and support that I now have the tools to determine what I want my life to look at. As I embark on this journey I want to learn more about my interest and where I stand in the world; how can I make it a better place for those I love? How can I get involved? How can I help?