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Listening to My Gut

By: Camey VanSant

By Pallavi

I’ve been home from my adventure in the pacific islands since November 10, working, spending time with my family and friends on break, and reacclimating to normal life. The last 6 weeks have consisted of many different things: applying to a ton of jobs, getting ghosted by those jobs, all of a sudden getting 4 jobs at once, narrowing it to 1, and then working and preparing for song auditions in nyc. My daily routine consisted of waking up, going on a long walk, going to work, which is at Aerie in Georgetown, DC, finding parking, and making the walk to work before my shift.

Rainy walk to my car through Georgetown after my shift!

Parking is my biggest enemy. I’m really bad at it, and I don’t live downtown, so parking in tight corners is unfamiliar to me. I park in the residential areas where the meters don’t usually get checked, and that usually leaves me about 15-20 min walking from Aerie. The walk is my favorite part of my day. I put in my half-broken earbuds, my playlist (which has lately consisted of a LOT of 80s rock) on shuffle, and my hands in my pockets to hide from the cold, and think about my life.

An issue I’ve been having recently, as dumb as it sounds, is having too much time to think. A lot has changed in my personal life recently, and my grandfather unexpectedly passed recently as well, so being home with a very predictable routine has given my brain a lot of time to over analyze my life. But for some reason, on this walk to work, I feel a lot more peaceful.

Maybe it’s because I love interacting with people and at work I get a lot of that. Or because of the combination of employee discount and working at my favorite store. My boss has labeled me the fitting room expert, and if anyone needs a bra fitting, somehow I am now your girl.

But, the upside about getting to think a lot is I have time to plan my future. I’ve spent more time with myself than I ever have before, if that makes sense. This past 6 weeks has felt like an in-between existence. I’m not quite at the next thing yet but I’m way past the first. I knew not always being super busy would be challenging for me because I genuinely cannot remember a time in the last ten years before this year that I had a lot of down time. It’s hard when you always feel unproductive, but also easy to fall into the comfort of home.

I remember reading a DGYP blog post from someone else on this last year and hopefully anyone reading this can have the same takeaway: it’s ok to not be as crazy productive as you’re used to. I’ve found that getting a lot of little things done during the day—even if they aren’t crucial in the big picture— can really make a difference.

Amid all of this change, I realized I also was craving a change in plans. Though I’ve spent almost 2 months singing and putting together material for the auditions I had planned on doing, I realized I had lost a little bit of the spark for it that I had before and that the stress of moving to New York alone in the dead of winter and entering a very critical environment was seeming less exciting and “growth opportunistic” and more like a very expensive chore. The timing felt wrong, and the universe confirmed that when my housing in nyc fell through. So I followed my gut and made a change.

I decided to look into a program my friend had told me about earlier in the year called VACorps, a company in Cape Town, South Africa that places you with an internship and housing and connects you with other gap year students for 2 months. Somehow I submitted the application, got interviewed, placed, and was allowed to sign up less than a week in advance…

Me about to leave to fly to Cape Town! Finally allowed to overpack again now that I’m not backpacking 🙂

So, I’m headed to Cape Town!!!! I’m editing this entry from flight UA2222 from IAD to CPT as we speak. In 12 hours I will be in South Africa, and I will be interning with an American lawyer named Kelly Stern working on human rights, gang violence, and mass incarceration. An internship in human rights was originally on my bucket list when I first decided to take a gap year, and though I didn’t envision it in January necessarily, I am so excited for this change. New York will always be there, and if come April the nyc spark is back, then I would love to try it again. If not New York, then I’m researching other music programs too. But for now, even just focusing on music for the past 2 months in preparation has sort of fulfilled me. Plus I’ve always wanted to see a safari!!!

It’s summer in South Africa right now, and much like the French, holiday is taken very seriously there. So, my internship won’t start for another week, giving me and the other gap year students plenty of time to explore the city and connect with each other. My pre-trip planning has included a very glamorous last day of work at Aerie where I scanned, by hand, as in manually, not one, not two, but three thousand pairs of underwear. It sounds like I’m exaggerating. I’m not. Probably one of the most mind-numbing 5.5 hours of my life.

Safe to say, I’m excited for some change in my life, and as I sit on this plane right now, I feel so much more calm than I did at this moment before my trip 5 months ago. It’s crazy to think about how different my life has been in the last few months, and how much my mentality has fluctuated too. I’ll miss my daily walks, but they’ll be there when I’m back. I can’t wait to see what the next two months hold (hopefully a safari and penguins!!!), and I will definitely be more active now that I’ll consistently have technology.

Categories: Pallavi