Gap Year Stories: September—Fourth Month

Wow. I’m in fourth month already?? Time seems incredibly fast. But if I looked back in what I did the past few months through my logbook, it seemed like it was not. The days are awfully long.

This month was rough but today, on its last day, I am just this happy gal looking back on how hard I worked the past few weeks. One thing that this month has taught me is do what I love. I mean it. This month, I literally just did what I wanted without following any specific path or what was expected of me. I followed my guts and intuition for the whole month and I had never felt so happy.

I wrote short stories and honestly this is a HUGE achievement for me. Few years ago, I started writing a novel but I discontinued it partly because I just can’t finish it. But right now, I just wanted to write. Hence, I started writing short stories. I did not feel any pressure at all whether its supposed to be loved or fit in a certain standard. The fact that I had completed something that I love to do is the reward for me.

I went on to write the article that I am afraid of the most. I have a one-month internship from June-July (then you can choose to extend for a month if you’d like) at MakeSense, an international organization that focuses on putting together individuals, organizations, and companies for projects related to social good. The first month of internship was stressful for me. It was the very first time I will be writing in such a big platform– this scared me ths most.

Considering how it brought so much stress into my life, I opted to not extend my internship for another month. But then came, this idea of writing an article that focuses on human-centered prisons and why the Philippines should built it.

Since one of my mantras is to not self-reject and feeling this need of sharing what I know and I am fascinated about, I extended again for another month. Honestly, it stressed me out a lot. I kept thinking that I do not have a lot of experience, I’m not qualified, I may even be called out because I know too little of the subject but even with all of those thoughts, I am grateful that I trusted myself. Also, I did not reject myself.

The idea actually started out as a seed. Around April 2020, I got curious on how human-centered prisons are different from the “regular” prisons and that is where I started researching about it. Fast forward to September, I interviewed Ar. Dominique Cruz, an architect, and Mr. Marco Toral, former consultant of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, about their thoughts on how can we create a friendlier and humane prison environment for inmates. Honestly, writing about the whole article about human-centered prisons made me decide to advocate for building more humane environments for people deprived of liberty. I had gotten so many perspectives and that all would not happen if I decided to reject myself in the first place. So… do what you love to do even if it feels scary. Run to the roar. Trust your curiousity, instincts, and desires.

Since I became a feature editor for our school paper, I wrote more than ten feature articles this month. I learned so much from interviewing various students in our College as well as from proofreading the articles of other feature writers.

I remembered how I stuttered so much during an interview with the one I will feature during the first week of September. I cringed so much while listening to the recording. However, from that experience, I became aware of the areas where I need to improve. That interview improved me so much. Although it was an awful experience, it is the very thing that I am grateful for. After that interview, I interviewed eight more students in the following days. Guess what? The seventh one actually told me that she felt comfortable talking with me throughout the interview. She expected herself that she will be nervous but she claimed, I did not make her feel that way. To more learnings hehe.

Also, I just am grateful to everyone who is reading my posts. This month, I had more than a hundred views and I just want to say that I am grateful for each and everyone of you. I hope you are doing what you love ❤.

Lastly, since next month, October, is the start of my classes. I want to bring back something that I wrote during June—first month of gap year:

Having this idea that I’m on ‘gap year’ even though I take classes online for uni makes me feel that I could learn and initiate passion projects as much as I want to without caring about uni at all. Hence, I started gap year last June 2020. My classes will start by August but it does not matter to me at all. I’m just thinking of it as a responsibility that I should do but not that significant at all.

My main priority for this gap year is to grow so much– to learn more about myself, learn more about the world, and leaving things better than when I found them.

I went back to this because I want to remember why I started and, hopefully, I would not get carried away by university requirements.

With all of these adventures from following my inner soul, may I always continue and remember to be human. To be human is to be alive. (Oscar Wilde: To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.)

I have no expectations for October. But what I have and what I armed myself with are stories. The stories that inspire me, that made me grow, that made me realize things, and most importantly, that made me see the beauty in life.

I may not have expectations but what I do have is anticipation. I am truly excited on what October holds. I am excited on how will I spend the 24 hours given to me tomorrow and the next day, and day after that, until the end. Also, I find it easier to move and do something if I think about what can I do for this 24 hours, instead of worrying about the future. Worrying about the future made me feel stuck like I should not even do anything at all because it would not matter anyway, you are late, and you cannot do anything. Whereas if I thunk about what the most beautiful thing that I can do in this 24 hours, I could think of a thing, if I would be very happy just doing that and accomplishing it throughout the day. And this is where I will leave, what is the most beautiful thing that I can do in this 24 hours?

Do it. Accomplish it. And congratulations, you just created something that will improve all your tomorrows.

Eckhart Tolle: Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make now the primary focus of your life.


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(If you are new to my blog, hi! yes, I’m taking a gap year while still enrolled in a university. I just want to instill the idea to myself so that I can focus on doing what I love and following my curiousities. Though it is not really what gap year means, but given that I have so much time because during normal uni setting I have to spend four hours in commuting, and a lot of hours waiting for professors in classrooms, I have a lot of time to spend. Hence, I instilled the idea to myself that I am on a gap year and I’ll focus less on my university and instead, follow my instincts. Watch out for more adventures and stories!)
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Claire Hernandez

I'm Claire, a college student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. I write about my journey, growth, and how design influences the behaviour of the users. Moreover, I am fascinated about the psychology of space, hence you can see me citing research studies in my posts. Email: hernandezanaclaire@gmail.com

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