This is the first year of my life in which I haven’t gone back to school. It’s a scary realization for me. I’m an adult and there is no denying it anymore. And as I approach this post-grad life, I find myself wishing I were 17 again graduating high school and taking a gap year (even though I was attending school during this gap year, it didn’t count for anything so I really didn’t do much). I took a gap year by doing an exchange with Rotary International. This was probably the best decision I’ve ever made and one I encourage every kid to do. But I’m not going to sit here and tell you to go on a gap year “just because”, I’ve come up with my top 3 reasons you should take a gap year. For this list I left out the obvious one of getting to travel. Even though that was the main draw for me to take a gap year myself, I wanted to focus more on what I took away from my year off that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.
If you’re entertaining the idea of a gap year, there is a good chance you’re a teenager. As a teenager you are just starting to figure yourself out. You’re learning what you like, what you want, and who you are as a real person is just starting to take shape. I know taking a gap year was needed for me to figure out a lot of things. I couldn’t go straight from high school to university – I couldn’t decide on what to study. It’s a huge turning point in your life and it can be a good thing to take a year off to think. While living in Germany I figured out that I wanted to study art. I figured out what’s important to me. I figured out a lot about myself. Granted, at 17/18, it was only a start to figuring out things but I got a lot farther along than I would have been without that year away. The gap year really allowed me the time I need. There isn’t a rush when you’re young and I don’t think a lot of people realize that with all the pressure on teens to make big decisions.
Your life up until the end of high school is most likely pretty comfortable. Your parents took care of most of needs and you’ve probably developed a good comfort zone around you. This is your first chance to really take your life into your own hands so why not do something great with that opportunity before getting weighed down with university or work. Seeking discomfort (especially at a young age) will help you deal with any curve balls thrown your way. Pushing your own limits allows you to become a stronger and braver person. And now sitting here as a university graduate I can say that you will really need that strength one day.
Sure. I could have lumped this one in with the obvious reasons but, I also think its important enough to elaborate on. I took away so much from my gap year but when I look back on that time, I remember the people first. I got to do amazing things in amazing places and I grew as a person however, the friends I made are really what I remember. All of the things I did while on my gap year wouldn’t mean as much as they do if it wasn’t for my local friends or fellow exchange student. The people you meet and spend time with shape you just as much as the actual experiences. Gap years are great to break out and meet more people that will change how you view things.
I would love to take another gap year now that I’m at another crossroads in my life but I unfortunately have about $0.39 in my bank account. It’s not quite enough to take off again. So, I’m off to the work world to save up for my next big adventure. You can check out some ideas I have for the next big thing on my post about the Go Global Expo. Or you can see some of the adventures I got up to during my gap year. But in the meantime, let me know if you ever took a gap year and what was the best part about it?