As some of you may know, I am in the last leg of my gap year in Ecuador. I have wanted, for a while, to find a way to share my experiences whilst being 18 on a gap year.
There are connotations to being 18. We often see those Instagram posts on 18th birthdays captioned, finally legal! And we can’t forget the classic emoji that unfailingly succeeds the cliche caption. 18 is freedom. 18 is responsibility (or abuse of). 18 is wild and unforgiving.
And then there are connotations to taking a gap year. There are always interrogations and back-handed questions. “You’re not ready for college?” “You didn’t get into any schools last year.” “You don’t value education.” “Your priorities are elsewhere.” Which is not the case at all.
Now integrate the connotations of being 18 and taking a gap year.
People expect the worse of you, while you are expecting the best. And honestly, you end up with both. A paradox is born. It is joyous and sorrowful, it is overwhelming and comfortable, it is a coming of age and an undoing of certain experiences simultaneously. It is a lesson you learn compiled of everything you have already known.
I wish I could have overcame my writer’s block sooner to document my experience in words whilst 18 on a gap year. I tried. But I have yet to find the words to paint a picture brilliant enough to embody my past 8 months.
So I deduced last night to attempt to organize my experiences into a mental palette, sequenced by feelings and colors, not following any conventional timeline.
I expect this series to be a tangle of stories, songs, pictures and more. Just as it exists in my memory. Here’s to being 18 on a gap year.
The next blog (and first of the series!) will be 18 On A Gap Year: Red. Posting Monday, Apr. 2nd!