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Figuring Out What's Important on My Gap Year

February 3, 2017

What's your biggest strength?

Go on, it's good to get your mind juices flowing before reading this blog. It'll help you get something out of it, hopefully. What would you consider your strongest and most beneficial trait?

Now, I know... Totally unexpected follow up question that you're not expecting (or maybe you are):

What's your biggest weakness?

Don't overthink it, I'm sure the first answer that pops into your mind is the most genuine and true.

Those questions have always been extremely hard for me to answer. Don't get me wrong; I could come up with a pretty good answer depending on who was asking. Future employer? My biggest strength is I'm a leader and my biggest weakness is that I can sometimes be disorganized. College application? I'm extremely passionate about certain things but it's hard for me to figure out what passion would be most beneficial to my life. Best friend? My strength is that I know almost every pun and 'dad joke' in existence, and my weakness is that I don't know when they're appropriate and when they're not.

However, I never really identified my true biggest strength and weakness. Every answer I told seemed simply satisfactory, but not entirely truthful. I don't know if I was too scared to search for the real truth, or if, at that time, that was the truth to me. It's hard to say, because taking this gap year has changed that aspect of me so much.

During the India leg of the WorldStamp Gap Year Program, our weekly routine was to come together, most the time in the pink themed, essential-oil smelling, warm two-bedded room of our Director, and the seven of us reflected. We would talk about a variety of things ranging from pros and cons of the week, our reactions to events, the successes with students, life stories and our past, and so much more. It was there that I started to realize what little I knew about myself. As we all sat there in that room, with slightly distracting noises like India traffic (which, if you're not aware, is not the most quiet thing in the world) and voices of the staff and other people at the guest house (the most amusing being the four year old son of the house director, who would pitch a fit right in front of our door almost every week because his entry was not permitted), we grew closer with not only each other, but also with ourselves. Thought provoking questions would be asked that would speak volumes about the different personalities in the group. Through learning what the other people in my group were like, I started to learn about myself and what type of person I was. I started realizing my strengths and weaknesses, and what mattered to me most in life. I realized that I needed to stop worrying what people thought about me, to be the Kelly God made me to be: a girl who is loud and obnoxious and isn't scared to make a fool of herself, no matter the occasion.

Now, we've got three weeks left in Guatemala. It's been a long time since those reflections in India, but the knowledge I've gained from them has not been dismissed. I feel like I've grown more in the past few weeks than I did through all of India, because I've been pushed to continue reflecting on my weaknesses, those same weaknesses I had discovered just a few months before. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit home in North Carolina after Christmas, and it was almost like a trial run for me. I got to see how this new and improved Kelly reacted in an old and basically stagnant community (not entirely, but you get the gist). And man, did she thrive.

While we wrap up Guatemala to start the third leg of our journey in Costa Rica, I'm looking forward to seeing myself grow even more. I want to continue reflecting on my actions and emotions, and I want to stay in the habit of allowing change to happen within myself. I know I'll never be a 'final product' because I believe people should try and grow themselves their entire lives. However, taking this gap year has put me on the right track to continue improving myself and my life goals.

I'm well aware of my strengths and weaknesses now, and if you ask me to make a list I'm confident I could make one and be proud of it. That may not sound like much, but that is one of the biggest steps I've ever had in my life to improve myself and learn who I really am. I know I will leave the WorldStamp Program a different person, and I'm happy that I've already gotten to know her pretty well. She seems pretty cool. B)