The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow McKenzie Roller.
I have procrastinated writing this blog post for a few weeks now. This could have been written and posted in a day, but until this moment I had not been able to get myself to sit down to write this, which is so unlike me. If you asked someone to describe me, you’d probably hear words like driven, leader, empathetic, thoughtful…but when it comes to my gap year, those core pieces of who I am have felt a little foggy; they are there, but they are being challenged. That fog, the fog that has made it difficult for me to sit down and put into words how I am feeling about my gap year and tell you who I am, is what makes me confident that I am in exactly the right place.
I have lived in Avon, Connecticut my entire life. Avon is familiar, but it is a bubble. It is a white, upper class, suburban, prep school, New England bubble. That felt normal growing up, that was my normal. However, I was raised in a home that has taught me to be independent, to value and fight for the rights of every human being, and to listen to perspectives different from my own. Therefore, I have sought out glimpses of a world beyond Avon — the high schools I attended were both boarding schools which meant I was meeting people from all over the world although I was limited to a largely upper-class cross-section of the population, I had a chance to travel to South Africa my junior year of high school, and I have had teachers and mentors that have instilled the value of travel and perspective in me. But those moments felt almost as if I was looking from the inside at a world that exists beyond the bubble. I have held so tightly to those glimpses, knowing that my perspective is so limited and that the world is so much bigger, so much more complicated, and so much more beautiful than I can begin to understand. I am beyond ready to pop the bubble I have grown up in, to enter into unknown spaces and appreciate and understand the complexities and nuances of our world.
The fog that I am sitting in means to me that I am beginning to pop the bubble. I am in and navigating through the unknown.
I am taking a gap year because I want to meet new people, hear new stories, see new places, and begin to truly explore the world that exists beyond Avon. Every new interaction you experience, every new story you hear, every new environment you enter, every new perspective you are able to open your mind to, and every time you are forced to confront the unknown, you learn more about yourself and the place that you hold in this world. This gap year is for me to better understand who I am while also continuing to pursue the passions that light me up.
I will live in three different places and communities throughout the year, Wilmington NC, Houston TX, and somewhere near the beach that is currently undecided. Over the course of the year, I will work with Vote.org as well as Eight Million Stories and co-teach the Miss Porter’s School ChangeMaker’s Institute to work towards creating a more just and equitable future in the United States and beyond. I will also learn to surf, try CrossFit, intentionally choose organizations in each community to get involved with, and potentially run a half marathon before the end of my gap year.
So I write to you now, sitting in my new room in an apartment in Wilmington, NC; a city where I know no one, but a city where I know I will begin to find myself and begin to understand the complexities and differences that make our world the incredible place that it is. I am popping the bubble.