22/05/2018

THE MISCONCEPTIONS OF A GAP YEAR


When I selected the buttons on my UCAS application that said 'deferred entry', I won't lie, I wasn't sure what was going to be ahead of me. Taking a gap year wasn't something that I've always wanted to do since the day I was born but, after experiencing bad anxiety throughout my final years of school and college, and quite frankly not feeling ready to be thrown into ANOTHER kaleidoscope, I knew that the right thing for me to do would be to take a break.

In a way, yes, I did want to find myself. I was kind of stuck in a rut of being a 'student'; walking into a building, being fed information and having to spew it back out onto paper at the end of the year. I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do with my life and, having been held back from lots of things because of my anxiety, I wanted to experience different things.

It all sounds quite splendid - spending your days adventuring and 'finding yourself', experiencing new things and end up with a straightforward mind. Admittedly, there have been many perks - I've had some wonderful experiences across this year but I can't sugar coat it completely. Some people see a gap year as a free-year and a chance to meet your spiritual leader. There are a lot of misconceptions and I deem it only fair that a few of them are cleared up...

You'll fall into a job.
  Nope. It's just as difficult as it always is although you sometimes feel a little bit awkward in your interview when you have to explain why you took a gap year and basically justify that you aren't just skiving out of Uni. I found finding a job extremely difficult, partly because of the mental health issues that I was struggling with at the time, and partly because I hadn't been employed before. My partner had 2 years of substantial work experience and managed to get a 9-5 job within a month of hunting but it took me an almighty 5 months to get contracted employment. My job was also temporary and only kept me employed for 3 months. After those 3 months, I was focusing on learning to drive which was something I always found difficult so needed a lot of attention. Then, I was left with barely 3 months until I was due for a 2 week holiday and, after that, I'm moving out. So getting another job seemed impossible - the time it takes to get employed in my area (especially with my little experience) would mean being in a job for a few weeks and no employer was prepared to commit to that. So, I was left with the experience of being a full-time, non-earning blogger and, while I adore blogging and have been able to lift my blog to new heights, it's certainly not how I saw my gap year at the start.
  It honestly breaks my heart when I look back at this because not only does it make me feel useless and completely eaten up by my anxiety, but it means that I didn't get to fulfil my gap-year dream of experiencing multiple jobs.
  Understandably, this experience changes for EVERYONE. It depends on your determination, your location, your previous experience and so on but it's worth knowing that, if you plan on taking a gap year, expect to need to work hard for work and expect circumstances to change. I wish this is something that I had known before - I didn't realise how much time was wasting away trying to find jobs until I looked back at it.

You can travel the world.
  When I first thought of this point, I thought of my friend Katie who has been on a gap year this year but seems to have travelled to so many amazing places. I spoke to Katie and asked if she would say that travelling to different areas has left her scraping the pennies together or whether she has been savvy. Katie kindly discussed with me that she kind of did the whole 'work hard, play cheap' system in that she worked throughout her gap year but when it came to travelling and seeing new things, she kept it European and sought out the cheapest ways to get about. Which, to me, sounds perfect.
So here's my point; finding yourself in the Thai mountains or backpacking your way through Australia might seem like a unique way of spending your gap year, but it might not be all that realistic. Katie travelled Europe and I travelled to a few places in the UK - both of us have experienced amazing things and proven that it doesn't take landing on the moon to say that you've experienced wholesome travel. Travelling the world comes with dedication, expense and a lot of time which, believe it or not, tends to fly by on these gap years.


You'll change your mind.
There were a handful of people that told me I'd change my mind throughout my gap year - that I'd end up forgetting all of my A-Level studies and end up wanting to do something at the complete other end of the spectrum. In case you don't know, if you have applied and received your place in University before you embark on a gap year, you don't really have much choice of whether or not you're attending. Alternatively, you can apply for Uni during your gap year and this gives people a bit more freedom. For me, I applied to do an English Language course before I have even taken my A-Levels so before I was even started on my gap year, I was destined to be going to University in 2018. Nevertheless, I kept an open mind throughout my gap year and always said "If I don't end up going to University, I don't mind. It's more important to me that I have the time to think."
  Despite always keeping that in mind, I always knew that the idea of studying something that I find fascinating, and living in the first flat with my partner was 100% something I looked forward to. 
  I own English books; I keep English fresh in my brain and I'm excited to get back into it again.  Admittedly, the workload will probably hit me hard when I go from the ease of a gap year to assignments and deadlines, but I can't pretend that I do yearn for the routine, the discipline and the achievements. Changing your mind takes a lot of thought and processing but, at the end of the day, a gap year is a time to think and if you come out the end of it with a different view, well at least it's been thought through.


What do you think about gap years?
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6 comments

  1. My, my, do I love this post!! I didn't take a whole gap year but because I moved to study abroad I had to go through a half-gap year of roughly 7 months. It's so true that time does fly by. I didn't "travel the world" just yet but I did travel to many different places over that time, it was really enriching to experience that. But you're absolutely right; I did get out of the gap year with a different perspective on things. It was difficult at first to ease back into courses, assignments, etc, but it was still all manageable.
    This was a really interesting thing to write about! Have a nice week. x

    Joanne | With Risa: A Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Joanne! It's certainly a life chapter that everyone experiences different but I think the most common thing is that it is valuable thinking time which is really beneficial :) x

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  2. I really wish I had taken a gap year because I now feel like I wasted my time at university a little because it wasn't what I wanted to do, I just rushed straight into it.

    Steph x
    www.wanderlustpulse.com

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    1. That's exactly what I wanted to avoid, I felt like I didn't quite trust myself to make a decision so big in a matter of weeks - sometimes we need to accept that life doesn't need to go so fast and we are allowed the time to think :)

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  3. I'm on a gap year at the moment and part of me never wants it to end. I wish I travelled more, but I feel like it's one of those things I'll regret but eventually make up for- it's just not the same going away when everyone else will be back for summer (if that makes sense). Finding. job is so hard! It took me months to find a job and all my friends seemed to find theirs so easily so it was super disheartening and I found a lot of employers, as soon as they found out I may be going to university in September, I was just completely off the cards. Loved this post!x
    constantlylibby.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I was completely the same - the concept of the 'gap year' always deterred employers so it just became even more difficult :(

      Thank you for reading x

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