Guest blogger – Charlotte

Having a set plan or an idea of what your future actually holds is something I personally look at as a talent. So if you are one of those people then I congratulate you because you truly do have a skill I envy.

I am not one of those people, neither was Beth. We bonded via messy bedrooms and the lack of control in our lives. Then she got pregnant and was remarkably good at it, henceforth forming her own plan and her messy bedroom turned into her own (surprisingly clean) house. I was left at sixth form, my predicted higher grades quickly slipping through my fingers and surrounded by a bunch of girls I only moderately liked. It was this moment that I decided I couldn’t go into further education, straight out of further education. This was way too much education for me.

So I chose the increasingly common option of taking a gap year, the main intention being to work out what I wanted to do with life and enhance my CV. Many people frown upon gap years as it is very easy to accomplish absolutely nothing. I could have easily got into bed and woken up a year later. But, without sounding like the world’s biggest cringeball, no words are truer than these: ‘Life is what you make it.’
So here’s how I made mine, starting in August I spent a month doing work experience with the social media company, ‘Social media makes sense.’ We were responsible for the social media of multiple clients and also working alongside big ITV shows such as ‘Victoria’, ‘Poldark’ and ‘Endeavour’. If you are reading this thinking, how on earth do I go about getting this kind of work? Then my biggest advice is, ask. Ask around. It’s more than likely that your own Facebook friends will range from police officers to fashion designers, don’t be afraid to annoy the hell out of someone, it’s more than likely it will be viewed as enthusiasm rather than you being an irritating pain in the a**e (no bad language, this is a baby blog). You will honestly be surprised with the opportunities that arise when you actually go digging for them.
At the start of November I travelled over to Zambia, Africa. Although the the timing was poor as I very nearly missed the birth of Emily-Grace, all was well and I left knowing my best friend had a happy, healthy baby girl. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I got to interact with people who were truly inspirational, be educated in a culture so far off that of my own, and walk first hand with animals that I’ve only ever seen behind bars.
One of the biggest downfalls when it comes to having a gap year filled with these kind of adventures, is that it comes at a price. You have to be prepared to spend a bit of money, these days nothing comes cheap. That being said, you can save in small ways. I stayed with a friend over in Africa who asked for nothing in terms of payment for accommodation, this saved me a small fortune in finances. We only ate out on rare occasions, instead buying food in bulk from the supermarket which again saved me a good amount of money. Be sensible, only spend when you need to.
In a couple of weeks I will be moving to Menorca, Spain for 8 months. This is the biggest step for me,  probably the biggest I’ve ever taken in my life. I will be living with three other Europeans, all of whom I won’t meet until I arrive. This is all part of the Erasmus+ and EVS schemes, which work alongside young people to give them working and voluntary placements abroad. If you are interested in doing something along the same lines as these then please do check out the European Youth Portal:
The fear of doing something alone always made me hesitant when it came to grabbing opportunities. But the best way of developing your interpersonal skills is being forced to only rely on yourself and your own abilities. My gap year has already made me a much more independent, confident person and the biggest part of it is yet to begin. So much so that last year I couldn’t even catch a bus on my own I was that scared of being alone, so this year I pushed myself beyond all measures to achieve what I have. If I can do it then anyone can.
Me and Beth started out last year on the same nonsensical path, both of us so unsure about our future. But starting 2017 we have both created strong, independent lives for ourselves. So if you are pregnant or if you are simply wandering around life aimlessly, then please remember that life is exactly what you make it. So let’s make it rock. (Yes, I quoted Hannah Montana).
Lots of love,
Char xoxo

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