The following blog post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow, Jess Foday.

My future: college essay prompts and prying parents alike force the topic into the forefront of my mind. And as I await my coronation into this perfect being I’ve concocted, I find myself talking to that future-self to pass the time. For her, I jot down book suggestions on coffee sleeves and catalog ambitious haircuts. Perhaps a partial product of my procrastination– I entrust her with much of our life, expecting she won’t snooze that alarm, hoping she starts that project, wondering if she has stuck to the path. Like some personal deity, I pray that despite her non-response, she receives the little care packages I send through time.

Foday’s cat, Mouse, helps pack

I am mostly content with these one-way conversations, satisfied that the silence is evidence of a fulfilling life on the other side. Still, I worry, how to actualize this flawless future-self when in the present, I feel somewhat directionless. I look at this past, pandemic year and wonder, for what? I look at the sphere that this ideal reality revolves in, and all I can perceive is a circle.

There’s a dissonance between who I am and who I want to be that I cannot yet bridge until I confront the ambivalence I hold individually for both. I’m on a quest to find that sense of groundedness and impetus– my foe, the apathy that breeds in burnout, the listlessness that leaks into the hours after class and lulls its prey into a Netflix stupor. Two similar yet different quotes replay in my mind (in this order): “Make your attention intentional”, then “Pay attention to what you pay attention to”. I wouldn’t ask this gap year to turn all of my incompletions whole, but it will be an opportunity to begin the streak of purposeful living and explore an admiration for what the present moment has to offer.

To branch out from an entire existence spent in one city, Durham North Carolina, feels liberating. I’m on the cusp of a life of, farming and fighting pipelines, writing and sharing space, and speaking with new people. Exactly what intangible wonders the coming year holds for me I’ve accepted I cannot truly know, but I’m genuinely excited to meet who emerges from the other side.

Sincerely, your past self