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Graduation, Gap Year... And Let's Talk About Fear of Failure


I graduated just over a week ago from high school, and I still don't know what to do with myself. I haven't talked a ton about my schooling on the blog, and, while I've shared a little on Twitter, I wanted to talk about it a bit since I've now graduated. I also wanted to talk about my unconventional gap year that's coming up, and how I'm framing it.
For those of you who don't know, I enrolled a year and a half ago in an online school called Laurel Springs. While I'm going to save a lot of details about that for a later post, I will say that a major reason for this was the ability to take a far broader variety of classes than any school I'd ever been to and to self pace my schedule. When choosing classes, I found myself with a sort of buffet mentality, piling my plate with every class that looked remotely interesting. Beyond the required core classes that first year I took things like mythology, intro to law, and philosophy. It was a lot, but it woke up my inner nerd, and I loved it.
After finishing that semester in April, I decided to take some classes over the summer to get a jump on my sophomore year. I was already on track to graduate a year early at that point. I signed up for a mix of classes I really didn't want to take (Algebra II) and classes that weren't "practical" enough to take during the year. I took Latin I before switching back to Spanish for a school year, and I loved it.
In November of this year, I realized that I was an English credit short of graduating in the Spring, so I sped through the rest of AP Language and launched into AP Lit, finishing both year long English classes in a semester each. I juggled AP Psychology, AP US History, and AP European History with my other required courses because I'd always wanted to take a real psychology class and I've always had a soft spot of European history.
It was a whirlwind, and I oscillated between loving being cocooned in constant learning and being super stressed about ten question quizzes and navigating all these difficult classes all by myself. My ingrained fear of failure and my inability to leave something alone until it was entirely finished creative a constant work cycle. It meant that I maintained straight As and finished two years early, but it also meant that there were long spans of time when I forgot to take care of myself, especially last month when I finished my hardest classes and prepared for finals. I also started working at my local bookstore and crammed for the SAT.  It was a lot all at once, and trying to do everything perfectly left little room for myself or honestly for working on the blog. I was thankful I'd done a lot of reading ahead of time.

Reflecting on this time, though, has helped me define what my gap year will be. Only finding out I was graduating in November meant that a gap year, and one where I would't know where I was headed afterwards, was inevitable. I hadn't even taken the SATs yet.
While I wasn't originally wild about the idea, I've come to be happy that I get this chance to breath. I'll be working at the bookstore and working to give you guys more and better blog content than ever before along with querying and writing books, but I also want to use this year as a way to learn with no boundaries or barriers or fear. The times when I was happiest during school were when I got lost in my history reading or learning new vocabulary in another language. When I forgot there would be a test at the end of the lesson.
I feel like a lot of times people, and especially teens in today's culture, hold themselves back when choosing what to explore in school because they might not be good at it. They might get a bad score that would bring down their GPA, and, along with your SAT score, that can mean a lot to your future. On top of that, a lot of schools don't offer much self directed work or arts initiatives.
So this year I am attempting to learn about everything I'm interested in. I've started drawing, and, even though I'm horrible at it, if I sketch every day, it has to turn into something. Right? I'm working on learning more about photography and photo editing, which has always been one of my favorite hobbies. I want to read some books in Spanish to keep up my skills and start learning a bit of Italian and Norwegian. I'm going to keep learning songs on the piano.
I want to follow every random interest that comes to mind, and I want to do everything I was scared of being bad at. I want to be bad at things,  and I  want to fail because a lot of times, that's the only way to grow. Failing, messing up, not getting it quite right, they're all proof that I'm doing something new and different.
So I may not be traveling Europe or backpacking or whatever the stereotypical gap year is, but I think that I still have a lot to learn in my own backyard, sitting with myself.


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