My new life has begun

Whew, I’ve been home for almost a week already and it feels like I’ve never been away! I can’t believe how quickly those three months went by, although it sometimes felt like time was dragging along when I felt really homesick. I thought it might take me a while to get used to being home again, but I’m already really enjoying doing the things I usually do and seeing familiar faces and places.

Coming down the escalator into baggage reclaim at Glasgow airport was the best feeling in the world. When I got off the plane about ten minutes before I wasn’t sure when I would first see my family, whether I would need to collect by backpack first or not, but suddenly there they were at the bottom of that escalator! Hayley and Mum ran over to me and we launched into our pre-planned biggest hug in the history of hugs. Mum’s partner Stuart was there too, and I honestly can’t even begin to describe how overjoyed I was to see them all standing there. It was the best moment of the whole trip! After that I still had to get my bag, so I wandered over to a conveyor belt with Hayley firmly attached to me and saw faithful Titch rumbling around on his own. I had to keep hugging Hayley to make sure she was real; poor Mum couldn’t get a look in!

So now my new life begins! Taking a gap year was undoubtedly the best decision I could ever have made. Just before leaving school last year I was a mess, with no clue as to what I wanted to study at uni or if I could even make it through a course. This is what I wrote in my first entry on 2nd April 2007:

“A conversation with myself

So… exhausted… so… confused… *huge yawn, head hits the keyboard*

OK, this is getting ridiculous. I can’t go on like this. I no longer have motivation for or interest in anything, my head feels like a washing machine and I just want to sleep all the time. All my friends are excitedly talking about their uni or college plans while I gaze sadly into space or smile and pretend to share their enthusiasm, and my teachers are interrogating me non-stop about what I want to do with my life, seemingly unaware of my monotonous, half-hearted responses. Why do I feel like this? I was desperate to get to uni throughout my fourth and fifth year, so why have I suddenly hit a brick wall?

I know I don’t need to have any definite plans for a career at this stage – I know I’m only 17 and have my whole life ahead of me, loads of people my age don’t have a clue about what they want to do either, blah, blah, blah. No one seems to understand… I want to have an ultimate goal, a reason for spending another 4+ years studying other than going out and getting drunk with a bunch of student mates every night. I want to have genuine enthusiasm for my course and the motivation to get myself through it.

*dramatic realisation* Omg, I can’t go to uni this year! I just can’t! I used up all my motivation studying for my Standard Grades and Highers and I’m struggling to keep myself going through Advanced Higher as it is.

But what will everyone say? I got really good exam results last year and everyone’s expecting me to go off and become a doctor, lawyer, actuary… One of my worst fears is attracting unnecessary attention to myself, and I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

Wait a minute… what are you banging on about? You’re about to leave school, and this is the time to make plans about what YOU want to do. You won’t be disappointing anyone by taking a break from education. Why would other people talk about you if you don’t go to uni this year? You’re not a person in the public eye; you’re only a tiny little person on a planet with 6 billion people. Why should you care what anyone thinks about you, anyway?

I know, I’m being stupid. You know what, I’m sick of floundering about and having next to no confidence or self-esteem. Stuff uni for now… I’m going to do something amazing this year. There are loads of things I want to do and places I’d like to see in my life, so why should I wait until I’m older? Now is the best chance I’ll ever have to go out there and chase my dreams. It doesn’t matter what kind of person I am or what anyone thinks of me – I can do this!!”

Just over a year later, I’m a totally different person. I now know exactly what I want to do at uni and even beyond, I feel so much more confident with who I am and I’ve accomplished my dream of travelling through South America. During my trip I learned Spanish, volunteered in the favelas of Buenos Aires, camped in random Peruvian fields, went paragliding in Bolivia, froze my little socks off in Chile and met so many amazing people. I’ve learned so many important lessons, the most prominent one being to never take anything for granted and to appreciate everything I have, especially things like a loving family and a roof over my head. My batteries have definitely been recharged for uni, and now I’ve seen that if you want something and are prepared to work for it, you can definitely get it, no matter how far away it seems.

Look out world, I’m coming!! 😀

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