The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Kyra Koons.
Usually, writing feels therapeutic to me, so it’s a little bit of a mystery that my body isn’t flooding with relief right now. But I have a few guesses why:
- I might be overthinking something.
- I’m probably overthinking a few things.
- I’m definitely overthinking everything.
It seems appropriate to imagine that my brain is a bingo cage, and my thoughts are the balls that rotate around and around until one slips out, right at the front of my consciousness. They’re already numbered in my mind from most to least important, but then they spiral around and jumble together so that Number 17 might come out before Number 2.
Alternatively (and then I promise I’m done with the metaphors), I’m turning into Abed from the show Community, where I keep thinking of all the possible timelines that my gap year could take, and I’m a little scared of each one because there’s so much that could go wrong and go right.
Essentially, there are few things that I can do better than overthinking. A few months ago, the bingo squares said things like “math project due tomorrow” or “need to finish essay outline.” Now, they’re saying things like “narrow down my interests” and “step outside my comfort zone!” Instead of an exhausting array of short-term tasks, I’m seeking to improve soft skills over my gap year through experiences and challenges that excite me. Recently, the challenge has been choosing which experience to tackle first.
I’ve studied Spanish for six years in school, although it has really only felt like five. At the beginning of last fall, our teacher abruptly left, and we had substitute teachers all the way through spring when the year was cut short due to COVID-19. I went home feeling frustrated with where I was and planned to study constantly over the summer to catch up. But work took priority, and I felt guilty chunking out a few hours for Spanish each day when I could be using that time to research potential placements or pick up more shifts instead.
When it came time to think about my goals for a gap year, I knew that improving my Spanish would be at the top of the list. I had previously talked with another Spanish teacher at my school about living in a Spanish-speaking country, and she told me that complete immersion was the way to go. So I added that to my list. It would be a big change, but that was okay- embracing change is another goal of mine. That, along with building new relationships, having adventures, and growing more independent. COVID-19 put a pause on my original plans, but I’ve been finding other ways to stay involved in my community. Since late July, I have been working as a project intern with Habitat for Humanity, at the Habitat ReStore local to my area. I’ve also been reaching out to organizations within the Hispanic community both in North Carolina and Puerto Rico, in the hope that such a placement could act as a bridge between an experience in the United States this fall and an experience abroad (fingers crossed!) in the spring.
I’m an introvert, and I’m used to spending too much time inside my own head. But as we’ve been confined indoors for much the past several months, I’ve realized that the last thing I want to do is spend time battling with my brain. Instead, I’m beyond excited to use this opportunity to explore both my role in service and in language and cultural immersion.