Why I Took a Gap Year(or two)

I’m now into my 5th week of college and it has been a whirlwind. I will admit I was highly nervous to start, though the first day passed by with ease.

To say it’s been a whirlwind has been an understatement, and though it hasn’t been the longest time I can already appreciate my taking two years off before going to college.

Here are some of the reasons why I am thankful for taking a break that don’t involve expensive year long travels that many people I know would never be able to afford:

  1. Taking classes seriously

By the time I had graduated high school I was barely going to class and doing the minimum amount required of me to maintain my GPA. If I had entered college the summer after graduation I would have taken that same mindset with me and I would not have tried as hard as I am now. Now that I am truly passionate about my education I can take my classes and homework seriously and put my full amount of effort into it and listen to constructive criticisms.

2. Know what I want to study

Taking two years allowed me the time to ponder over the specifics of what I wanted to study. I have known for awhile that I have wanted to write, but that is pretty open ended in terms of a specific area of study. Now that I know what I like to write and what I want to do with my life I can make sure I am only taking classes that I am interested in or will get me closer to completing my major.

3. More confident in myself

When I graduated high school and in the two years between then and now I have gained so much more confidence than I ever could have imagined I would have one day. Though I still believe I have a ways to go it is tremendoulsy improved. I have more motivation to try as well, which I have found boosts my confidence

4. Ready to be involved

When I was in high school I had absolutely no school spirit. If possible I had negative school spirit. And now though I can poke fun at the fact that my school mascot is the same animal as Arthur, I am proud of where I am. I am also eager to be a part of my school’s offered activities, especially in the writing department.

5. More life experience

I can say with certainty that I have more life experience than I did at 18 years of age. Still at 20 I have no idea what I am doing half the time; but what I have learned in two years has helped me in setting myself up for success. Much of college writing in my communications and sociology classes is pulled from experience and without this two years of being in the workforce I would be at a disadvantage. My time management skills have also improved; which is needed for the large amounts of homework my classes leave me with.

In the end you have to do what it best for you. If you are ready to go into college immediately after high school that it superb! All the more power to you. I am not trying to influence anyone one way or the other, however I want to break the stigma of taking a break before going to college, or not going to college at all. College is not, nor should it be for everyone as there are many career paths that are enjoyable and successful without going through the traditional college role. It’s what is best for us as individuals, and I hope to give more of an insight into a different route than what it considered “normal” by societal standards.

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Ethical Consumption in the Modern Age(ECMA)

When Blackfish was released in 2013 it created a mass uproar and sparked a multitude of conversations about the conditions in which wild animals were kept in captivity. Yet there are still SeaWorld parks in operation and they still house these wild animals. If you look at their site they have a huge push towards the good work they do for marine life but as I sit here watching Blackfish for the first time I can’t help but feel that it’s all BS.

That’s why I want to add a new category to my blog: Ethical Consumption in the Modern Age or ECMA as it will be in the tags.

I can’t bear the thought of being a contributor to the senseless violence that blind consumerism brings to the world around us. We only have one earth and it is filled with wondrous things.

I understand that in our modern life it is extremely engrained in patterns and conveniences, and I am striving to form a community that will enable small changes in our everyday life that positively impacts the big picture.

I want this community to grow in terms of places (like SeaWorld) to avoid, ethical food purchasing (in a way that is affordable), good companies to buy from, growing your own food, or other small things that we can all start doing today. In cases that require an explanation I will certainly provide one. I believe that being aware and conscientious of protecting our environment belongs to one group of people who believe a certain way. We all live on this planet and so do hundreds of thousands of other species that also deserve to live their lives on this planet.

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How I’ve Started to Live a Happier Life

When I compare my present day self to where I was last year it’s almost like comparing two totally different people. Here are the five major changes I’ve made in my life to improve my overall sense of self and my motivation.

 

Invest time into your hobbies, but it doesn’t have to be every hobby everyday.

I like to do many things. And I love doing things, but if I try to press myself to practice or participate in every single one of my hobbies every single day I would go crazy. There would be no time to do anything else, not even sleep. There would be too much pressure to perform at the same level everyday. And that would take away the joy I get from things like playing the ukulele. It is something I enjoy, and though I could stand to practice more than I do, it’s okay to not do it every day.  This is especially important if you have many hobbies, allow yourself time.

Go outside everyday/open the blinds.

Before I got a dog I would never go outside when it was cold. Even on some nice days I would stay inside, unless it was to go to my car. The blinds were also always closed. Since getting a dog I have to go outside, and I am so thankful for it. Although I never wake up early enough to see the sunrise, going outside at any time is important. Even on the cold days there is something almost therapeutic about breathing in the fresh air. Having my blinds open during the day and letting in the natural light has boosted my mood exponentially when compared to the days when I leave the blinds closed. The sunlight is such a happier light than having the lights turned on in the apartment, and I always feel more motivated too.

Find your perfect work/life balance.

The perfect work and personal life balance is different for everyone. And of course, changing up hours or jobs isn’t viable for everyone who has to hold onto every hour they get in order to fully pay their bills and survive. And I understand that, so if you are unable to change your current work life; I applaud you for doing what needs to be done.

I am fortunate enough to be in a situation where I do not have to work full time to make ends meet. Though the months are tight and I rarely have extra money I am so much happier. The change in hours also came with a job change, which also helped. At my last job(which was at a call center) I was sad and anxious all the time. There were no windows to look out of and it was sitting in one place for eight hours. There were days where my anxiety was so bad I could not go to work; one time I missed a whole week of work due to my mental state.

Although now I still work in a high stress job(at the Boys and Girls Club) it has been a complete 180. The hours are only after school and I am able to move around, go outside, play games, and watch movies. My new job has also allowed me to invest more time into what my dream job is; writing. I have been able to progress more than ever on personal projects than I had over the past year.

Eliminate the things that don’t serve you.

I purposefully left this as vague as possible, because you can take this mindset into any aspect of your life. And I certainly don’t mean this in the way that if someone or something isn’t benefitting you in a financial or material way you need to cut them out of your life. This is more in the sense of emotional negativity, material clutter, or health. I have found that dairy makes me bloated and tired, it is not positively serving my body so I have mostly eliminated it from my diet.

Look at self-care/working out as a celebration of your body, not a punishment.

I’ve never been big into working out. When I would have those few moments where I told myself I needed to work out it was out of hatred for my body. I would eat way too much junk food and was sad and unhappy with how I looked constantly. Now I have gotten into yoga as a celebration of where my body is, and how it will improve. Though I do still eat junk food it is much less than in the past and I now enjoy a much better diet. These two physical changes have improved my overall state of health. Like with the work/personal life balance this, of course, is dependent on how much you can do for yourself. I can’t always eat the way that would be ideal for me, but you just have to work with what you can do.

Self Improvement

Slowly it’s getting further and further into 2018 and on social media I have already seen some people give up on their resolutions, and others who are showing real improvement and following through on those resolutions.

Unfortunately, I was in the first group of people who had given up. I wanted to do yoga everyday and really focus on my body and eating healthier, and all of those cliche health related goals that everyone has at one point or another.

That lasted for a little bit, however one morning of skipping yoga turned into two, then three, then a week. The water turned back into soda and I found I was participating in those same old self destructive habits.

While I was slipping back into this “old me” status, I saw those people who were improving, people who are my friends. And instead of feeling joy and happiness for them, I felt anger. Why were they improving while I was going in the opposite direction.

It took me awhile to really think through and process my thoughts. Why was I so angry at my own friends for doing something awesome and improving themselves?

It was because of my hatred for myself. Even those good intentioned resolutions I had made, were made out of self hatred for my body. When those goals didn’t yield immediate results I really couldn’t think of the point of continuing and slipped into those negative behaviors.

That’s when I realized that self improvement should come from a place of self love, not from self hatred or being angry that others are achieving their goals. Rather than make goals of working out and being healthy I should have put more focus on loving my body as it is, and loving myself so much that the healthier options would not become a punishment for my body.

With this, I know I can still make those promises to eat healthier and do yoga everyday, however I am now bringing those changes into my life out of a love and appreciation for my body and the incredible things it is capable of, rather than hating it.

If you are in the same boat, it’s a hard transition to make, especially if you have spent years in the hole of self deprecation, but it is so worth it. This is a recent change for me, but I am so much more content now that I have made the change.

I am allowing myself to indulge in things that make me feel good, outside of health, like wearing makeup and taking selfies, and I urge you to do the same.

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Promises to Myself

 

Forming long lasting habits has never been something that has come easily to me. Yet I love giving myself self improvement goals. I’ll spend time on Pinterest poring over all these how-to guides for being your best self, or losing weight, eating healthier. And with all of those articles and guides I’ll find myself making goals- most of them are much to difficult to attain.

So here I am a month into February and all of my new years goals have all since ended. Obviously the way I had been doing things had not been working. Yet, I’m not sure how else I’m supposed to go about change. I feel like every month it’s a new “New Me” deal, and it only lasts until I burn out and lose motivation, only for me to find motivation the next month and repeat the cycle.

I’ve read about people making contracts with themselves, and if it isn’t followed through they have do something they hate, or donate to a cause they don’t stand behind as the motivation to stick to it.

I don’t think I’m that ready to go quite that far, but rather than make arbitrary goals for myself I am going to make promises to myself. Promises hold more weight than goals. Some of my promises will include dietary changes and overall health and lifestyle changes. I’m not expecting it to be a totally linear process, but to start seeing positive improvement is really the most important thing, along with persistence.

Here’s to the last, and hopefully, best month of my being nineteen.