The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow, Amanda Jesuca.

 

When I was finalizing my decision to take a gap year, I was still calculating how many transfer credits I would have to see if I would still graduate on time. That small fact illustrated my fear of a gap year as if taking one could only have merit if I could gain work experience, travel to 20 different countries, and somehow find time to meditate and eat organically and have some grand awakening. Like many other aspects of my life, I thought a gap year was a game of pure will and decisiveness. Working hard had gotten me to my dream school, in my dream program, and surrounded me with amazing people.

As the days drew closer to my departure, a deep fear rose from my toes and settled squarely on my chest, tightening its grip over my psyche and filling me with indecision, dread, and anguish over my decision. Faced with the reality that a gap year is not in name only, but in action, I froze and let Fear loom over me. I wanted to curl under the sheets and hide until the year ended as if it were a thunderstorm just passing outside my window. I allowed Fear to create those lofty goals and without even starting, I wanted to be finished.

Turning to my indelible delight in film and books, I asked a friend for advice. Turning to Tom Morris in his philosophical text, The Oasis Within, “When things seem bad, we automatically view them through the small end of our telescope like most people do, and then those things look much bigger and closer and worse than they really are.” My Fear came from assigning value to things, places, and people that I have not seen, been to, or met. As in Dune, my favorite book and book-to-movie adaptation, the litany against Fear reminded me that Fear is only a feeling, but it consumes you if you do not face it.

 

With all the lies it tells, my fear may never leave. And I would not want it to. Finding balance means understanding all the pain it causes and understanding that it is only a temporary feeling that I can banish when I acknowledge it exists but refuse to be its victim.

I know I will have days where I will be challenged and tested. I will also have days when I sit on the beach enjoying a fruity, mixed drink.  And with all the days in between, I hope to allow any fear to wash over me like ripples in water.