why i chose to take a gap year

I'm starting a new series: my gap year! Before I started mine, I looked into as many sources as I could get my hands on, but they didn't really have any ideas of what you could do in your gap year besides working or traveling. These things are both really fun and interesting, but they're not for everyone. I'm doing the my gap year series so that you can see what an unconventiona gap year looks like from the inside; I'll write about mine, as well as experiences from a couple of friends who are also taking gap years!

 

In my last year of school before the exams when most of my friends were writing to universities, I really didn't feel ready for it. After going to school for 12 consecutive years, I needed a break. This may not be the right choice for everyone, but it felt right to me. Personally, I knew (mostly) that I wanted to be a teacher, but I wanted experience outside of the school environment. I wanted to explore the subjects in which I was interested, and learn about them for myself, not because my grade depended on it. I wanted to find my own motivation for learning the things I enjoy learning without the pressure of succeeding.

 

So I came up with a plan! I sat down and came up with some things I want out of life, and made some goals based on that: 

There are many reasons for taking a gap year, and I’ve encountered quite a few:
☆ saving up for college
☆ saving up for a big trip
☆ taking a break from studying
☆ taking time to study for retakes
☆ gaining work experience
☆ volunteering in a foreign country
☆ taking time for themselves
☆ finding what they want in life
☆ improving on skills
☆ learning new skills

I have a couple of friends that are taking gap years as well and are each doing different things with different goals in mind, so I asked them about their reasoning for taking a gap year:

“I took a gap year because I wanted to take sometime to explore life outside of school. The first 17 years of my life were spent dedicated to academics, and I felt that I'd benefit from taking time to work and explore my non-academic interests. I had no clue what I wanted to study, and I wanted to take a bit of time to figure it out before spending money on university. I am so glad that I took the time. It gave me the change to mature emotionally, as well as experience things I never could have had I been studying. Now that I've taken the time to work on myself mentally and emotionally, I feel that I'll be more dedicated to my studies when I return this fall.”

“Taking a gap year is so much more than taking time off. If done right, I find it's more time spent on whatever develops you as a person. In the beginning I used my bullet journal set out what I wanted to get out of my gap year. For me this was to sharpen my body, mind and spirit through a combination of daily physical exercise, mental exercise and activities that I felt help me progress in my respective interests. All the while you learn a lot about yourself, your natural tendencies and inclinations. You'd be surprised how much this self knowledge can help you when you enter the next phase of your life.I remember clearly how during my last month of school, all I could think about was what I would do with my free time once I was finished. Despite these intentions, the first three weeks of my gap year I did absolutely nothing. This was partly necessary to cool down after the stress if IB, but also partly because without the drive of teachers and deadlines, I was really bad at getting anything done. During school I'd use almost all my free time to play video games or hang with friends, but never anything beneficial like reading or exercise. In a gap year you have a lot of time on your hands and managing it for good or bad is what makes your gap year beneficial or detrimental. That was one of the most valuable skills I learned through my gap year, how to make good use of the time you have.

I am nearing the conclusion of my gap year, I've spent most of it working in a health-food store and doing small filmmaking jobs to saving money for my gap year trip. This work is finally paying off, I passed my motorcycle license a week ago and with the money I saved I've booked a flight and bought a used motorcycle! I leave for Indonesia in three days and I can't wait! On top of that, I've done a lot of filmmaking work giving me real life experience that will help me towards my dream of becoming a filmmaker. If I have one regret it's not reading enough, but I'm sure my next few years of school will make up for that 😉 . A gap year isn't always for everyone, but if you're self-motivated or just aren't sure which direction you want your life to take (working in a menial, boring job also really helped motivate me for school again!) I'd say use the time a gap year provides to really think things through, good things come to those who wait.”
 
“I took a gap year, because I felt like I needed a year where I could work, travel and spend time with my family. After working in a cafe for a few months and babysitting on the side, my best friend and I went on a trip to Italy, which we've recently returned from. Now that my gap year is almost over, I feel like I can go to university more prepared than I was before.”

“it’s a good opportunity to find out if what you want to do later is imaginable. you have time to focus on your future and try out new things.”

 

If you have taken a gap year, or are thinking about taking one, please comment below! I’d love to hear about your experiences and why you decided on a gap year!