Gap Year Revisited

Originally Posted: September 21, 2015

I’m sure it came as a shock to most people when I announced that I was not going back to Princeton this year. It honestly came as bit of a shock to me too.

I always thought there were two types of people in the world- people who took gap years and those who simply didn’t. I never anticipated that I would be the former.

I always thought I would follow the normal pattern of four years at college and then an ascent up the corporate ladder or whatever was supposed to follow wild college days. Never did I think I would need time to figure out who I am and what I really want, independent of my parents’, friends’, or society’s expectations. Before Princeton, I thought I knew who I was and what I stood for. At Princeton, I basically agreed with everyone just to keep the peace. I wasn’t willing to cause conflict. I assumed everyone was more well-informed and educated than I was. I had no strong opinions of my own.

I wanted so badly to conform, to be “normal”, to be cool and accepted. Honestly, I wanted to be admired for being queen of the basics- so outstandingly mainstream that I would be able to relate to almost anybody. For a while, I was achieving just that. My tastes, my preferences were HEAVILY influenced by what I perceived was popular. *Disclaimer* I still stand by my claim that there is nothing wrong with being “basic”, but when it becomes your whole identity — when it became my whole identity — it is a problem.

I just want to clarify that I am not taking a Gap Year because I did not like Princeton, in fact just the opposite is true. I LOVED Princeton and I had SO much fun Freshman Year. In fact, it seemed like that’s all I had. Honestly, despite all of the great memories I created, I felt so unfulfilled. If I could describe my year in a word it would be “gray”. I did not and could not feel strong emotions about anything or anyone. I just kind of felt like I was ambling through life with no clear purpose. I was always looking forward to the new “high” that each party, club, or accomplishment would give me, but I was left feeling lonely and empty even though I was constantly surrounded by people.

This is not something I realized until I came home.

Initially when I came home back from Princeton, I was angry to be home. I was mad that I had to spend an entire summer living with my family. I was angry that the freedom I had at college would be stripped away. And mostly, I was mad that I failed to prepare a FABULOUS summer that I could brag about when I back came in the fall.

Despite a rough start, I can confidently say this was the best summer I have had in years. I have learned to appreciate and enjoy my family. I was able to reconnect with old friends and build deeper, stronger relationships than I ever have before. I am learning to accept the fact that I experience emotions deeply and that I shouldn’t continue to repress them for the sake of efficiency. I am also learning about the importance of being intentional with people and being intentional with myself. I am finally slowing things down and reflecting.

I am taking this year off not only so I can make the most of my next three years at Princeton, but also to rebuild foundational principles to base my decisions (and ultimately my life) on. I refuse to be confused about what I believe in anymore. I also refuse to base my identity solely off of my accomplishments or people’s acceptance of me. I am ready to get real with myself and everyone else about who I am.

I am starting this blog not only to help articulate and organize my thoughts for myself, but to help anyone else who may be going through something similar.