If like me, you’re single and in your thirties, you’ll probably relate. I go through a cycle where I’m super comfortable about where I’m at in life
- I do what I want, I’m going out and having fun and just doing me. Then,
I meet someone who either makes me rethink this whole being single thing, or it reminds exactly why I like being single.
People usually take their gap year after high school, but what happens when you get to your thirties and you feel like you’re on a raft in the middle of the ocean without a paddle? That’s why I decided to take a gap year. Sure, it isn’t the most adulting decision ever, but that space, time and permission to start over and get to know the real me again has been a real game changer. I’ve made some incredible connections and taken up new hobbies that I never thought I would, like rock climbing.
Taking a gap year in my thirties is not like a holiday, that’s the mindset I had to adapt. I knew that if I worked, I could live in Peru for at least a year. I had no plans of spending my days lying on a tropical beach somewhere - my gap year had a purpose, even if that purpose has changed somewhat throughout the months I’ve lived here. This wasn’t about taking a break from my ‘real’ life, everything that happened this year has shaped who I’ve become, as much as the memories I made in New Zealand.
Leaving this beautiful country has finally become real in the last two weeks. I thought a lot about the connections I've made so far, you know the kind that teach you, grow you and especially the ones who help you to look at love in a new perspective. Living away from New Zealand and what has been my home for over a quarter of a century showed me how much growing up I had to do. Not just in life, but also when it came to love. You see, as much as I resisted it, I did meet someone. Actually, we both resisted it.
As we sat talking in the darkness, I realised that I had been so busy chasing the certainty that I shut myself off emotionally. I was the one
who was emotionally unavailable and he was reflecting what I was feeling inside, yet too afraid to tell him. In those couple of hours he pulled out pieces of me that I really didn’t want to face. It was the most real I had been to myself in a long time.
All the things I’ve done while living here: Hiking, climbing mountains,
rock climbing and most of all living in a country where I barely spoke the language showed me a different way to live. For most of my adult life at least, I needed to be exceptional in whatever I did. In my work, dance and poetry. Now, I do it simply because it makes me happy. Even though I still have that competitive streak in me, I’ve stopped comparing myself and where I think I should be. It’s a relief to no longer feel burdened by the weight of those self-imposed expectations.
So, I have a couple of months left of my gap year. I’m letting go of any expectations of what it’s going to bring, but I’m optimistic for more adventures and time out in nature. Taking a gap year in my thirties has been the best decision ever, I may not have as much in the bank, but it’s been worth it. What I’ve learned these last few years is that if you don’t like where you are in life...move. That first move doesn’t have to be your next forever home, but it’s closer to the next one. And maybe, just maybe, it could be your place in the world.
Ronna Grace Funtelar a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and poet currently working and traveling in Peru. A woman with a curious mind who lives for hiking mountains, outdoor adventures and eating pizza. She has a unique brand of optimism that is a combination of her great enthusiasm for life and cups of coffee during the day.