Learning to Take it Slow

Hello Olin community! It’s me, Hadleigh, returned to the US, writing from my own laptop with its 100% functional keyboard!

I’m still processing my journey. I’m glad that I decided not to travel again in the spring semester because I don’t think I could have handled another intense experience of that nature. I’m still learning from my three month trip through Perú and Bolivia, though I’ve long since grown re-accustomed to hot showers, grocery stores, and iPhones. The journey had so much to teach, and while I learned an incredible amount while in South America, there was not enough time to deeply understand a place before we moved on. This may be something only I had trouble with, being a notoriously slow processor, but still. I’m glad we did so much in such a short time, because it meant I had no time to be homesick. Anyway, all this to say that I’m still sort of reeling from my fall semester.

Besides being way too slow at reflecting on my travels, I’m working at Einstein’s Workshop, a STEAM education center for kids in Burlington MA. It’s sort of a startup company, so everyone has several different roles. Mine include hanging around in the drop in area and helping kids find the LEGO they need, running 3D prints of student designs for different classes (each student gets to take home three prints they’ve designed per class), occasionally being a teaching assistant explaining the concept of a 3D printer to awestruck young children, cleaning stuff up, and pretending to know things about Minecraft. It’s an awesome job; I honestly can’t believe I get to work in a STEAM area almost full time before I’ve gone to college. Between the job and tutoring, I’m actually quite busy, and so I can pretend to myself that I’m a real adult and functioning member of society. I’m not really fooling anyone, but hey.

A big part of the reason I took a gap year in the first place was actually to confront the issue of me as a functioning adult human. I was extremely stressed out during high school, which I won’t go too deeply into right now. Suffice it to say that I realized I couldn’t go on living with that amount of anxiety. I had sort of hoped that the stress would abate when I wasn’t in a school situation with tests and timed assessments, but, as I should have known, the stress is intrinsic meaning I actually have to change my life attitude instead of just my environment. Darn. So I’m working on that. I do have more time now than I did in high school and I’m using that time to try and find some chill.

I haven’t spent as much time in the workshop/ studio/ sewing room as I would like, because I’m pretty bad at setting aside time to just relax and make things. I did get a digital drawing tablet for Christmas, which I was initially quite suspicious of because I thought it would be really counter-intuitive and difficult to use. It turns out I can I’m not a total Luddite, so I’ve been messing around with digital drawing a bit.

Hadleigh Cartoon

I was starting to feel like Olin was just a crazy dream I had, and that I would just kind of stay at home forever while my friends stayed at college and had parties and made new friends. So I decided to visit Olin for Candidates’ Weekend 3, just to make sure. This was a good decision because it reminded me how completely excited I am to attend the college next year. I swear, every time I’ve visited campus I see a bunch of little things that inspire me. I can’t stop designing carts that attach to bikes suitable for rugged dirt roads, or thinking about designs for dorm room furniture.

It was also really reassuring to be told that others at Olin, many others in fact, experience “impostor syndrome.” Somehow, knowing that I’m not alone in feeling alone and like I don't belong was very comforting. On one hand, I can barely wait until this September to start school and truly become part of the community, but on the other, I’m very grateful that I took this time off to figure myself out.

So yeah. That’s the rambling update from me. Please be in touch with me about anything, and until fall I’ll be here, learning how to take it slow.

Posted in: Gap Year Blogs