So, my time in the Netherlands is drawing to a very rapid close – I go home in exactly one week and I have mixed feelings about it, but generally I am really looking forward to getting back home!
I know people talk about the cliche ‘finding yourself’ when on a gap year or a year abroad and I don’t want to label it as ‘finding myself’ at all, but I definitiely have changed as a person and learnt a lot and I actually didn’t expect that and despite some difficulties, I don’t regret doing this year at all.
I’ll admit, I don’t think I’ve found this year the easiest compared to some people I’ve met. I totally support the idea of not comparing yourself or your year abroad against others, but when you’re around individuals constantly, this is difficult not to do… I’ve definitiely learnt that this year that I’m an introvert – previously, I wasn’t really sure where i’d place myself on that spectrum, but after this year I’ve realised I’m far more introverted than extroverted. What was interesting, was that during a discussion with friends just last week, somebody said ‘why would anybody come on a year abroad if you’re an introvert?’ This did make me feel uncomfortable and realise just how many people don’t realise that being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re a loner!
The idea of introversion is that you gain more energy from your own company, or just people you’re very familiar with. An extrovert, constrastingly, gains more energy from being around people and socialising a lot. On a year abroad you will face a lot of pressure to socialise, constantly. At first, I found this really difficult and to be honest I didn’t have a great time at the start of the year because of this. I thought there was something wrong with me for wanting a day to myself or because I got a little anxious and exhausted by being around people constantly and having not made a tonne of friends. I was astounded how people could be busy with people every day for days in a row. The main and overall issue that I had, was that I felt that I wasn’t making the most of my year abroad because I wasn’t doing things or being around huge groups of peope constantly
– and all of this made me feel so unhappy!
Fast forward a few months, and I began to understand and recognise that I am an introvert. I still enjoy socialising – if I, or anybody, spent too long alone they’d go mad! I just value and need my alone time a lot more than an extrovert. And thats okay! Sometime’s I’d feel like a lesser person and not as ‘fun’ because I wasn’t as chatty or loud as ‘her’ or ‘him’- sometimes I still feel like it! But you know, the world is made up of introverts and extroverts and people more in the middle and on every level of that spectrum and that’s how the world keeps it equilibrium!
The past few months I’ve been a lot happier, I may not have made a tonne of friends but I have one really, really close friend and a larger group of acquaintances to socialise with when I want to and I have the energy for. As an introvert, sometimes it’s good to push yourself to socialise when you don’t want to, but other times, you need to recognise when you really need the time to be by yourself and recharge!
I’ve had a wonderful year, I’ve had fun exploring The Netherlands with people and had fun by myself and with my familiar and close people. So really, I’ve had the best of both worlds. Don’t punish yourself and feel like I did if you’re also more of an introvert, if you want and need some time to yourself that’s completley fine – embrace it!
Below are some amazing days I had with my best friend here – and I have to say, I’ve had better days with that one person than the huge group!