Everyone Should Take a Gap Year Sometime During Their Life
My gap year helped me find my passion and purpose when it came to writing.
“Why not let him take a gap year to figure out what he wants to do?”
Insert Pikachu shock face. It was as if I made a completely outrageous suggestion. My colleague was telling me that her 17-year-old son wasn’t sure what he wanted to study when he left school. He was thinking of becoming an engineer (no doubt at the suggestion of his parents) but was also considering computer sciences.
“Seriously. Why not let him take a gap year? Give him a year or two to decide what he wants to study.”
“Oh no, he will love that too much. Just sitting around the house, doing nothing.”
“A gap year isn’t a holiday. Set up ground rules. He needs to get a job, he has to pay rent, his expenses, cook dinner twice a week. It would be better than wasting a year or two’s worth of tuition on something he isn’t sure of.”
But I was 25. I didn’t have kids. I was barely an adult myself. And I knew nothing about teenagers or choosing careers or parenting. He was sent off to university, and halfway through his first year, he proclaimed that engineering was not for him.
I broached this very same subject with a close friend of mine. She was around 7 months pregnant at the time. She agreed completely with my colleague.
As she rubbed her pregnant belly she announced that no child of hers was going to take a year off from life and fall behind everyone else.
I was shocked. It wasn’t even 4 years earlier we were standing in a corridor flipping a coin to decide what we were going to study for our Honours degree. We didn’t know what we wanted to do at 21, how could we expect an 18-year old to know?
“What do you mean fall behind everyone else? Is there some sort of life competition that I’m unaware of?” I asked.
My friend kept quiet, then changed the subject. I knew she was talking about all the ‘mature’ students we studied with. When we started our first year in university, it was a shock that there were so many people older than us. Some had taken gap years, some obtaining another degree for a career change. My husband was one of these students.
After high school, my husband hopped on a plane to London. He found himself working and living there for a few years before he decided he wanted to study. While we were 18 in our first year, he was 22.
Sometimes I kinda wished I had taken a gap year after high school. Figured out who I was. And I often wonder what I would tell my teenage self. Would I tell her to take a different path? And the answer is no. I’ve had a great life so far. I have no major regrets. And I wouldn’t be the me I know today.
I took a gap year after I turned 30
As 30 started to creep up on me, I knew I needed a change. The only reason I landed up in environmental management, in the mining industry, as a corporate slave was…to make money.
Guess what folks. Money doesn’t make your world go round.
After leaving my cushy corporate job, I found myself 1000 km away from my old life, looking out onto the vast expanse of what might be.
Why I Left My Cushy Corporate Job
It took me a long time to figure out it was time to leave… and when I did, I felt liberated.
There weren’t any jobs in the environmental management field where we were now living, besides consulting…and I knew that I didn’t want to be a consultant.
Since I was a small child, I’ve wanted to be a writer. This was my opportunity. This was the year in which I figure out what I wanted to do. Here I was, 30, unemployed, and taking a gap year.
I wrote several erotic romance novels, I tried my hand at writing and illustrating children’s books and even pumped out a young adult novel. None were successful. And none brought in the thousands of dollars I thought they would. I was writing for the wrong reason.
Figuring out my passion
After I had spent almost a year writing this and that, I needed to have a long hard look at myself. I was enjoying writing…but writing erotica is hard (pun intended)! Writing a kid’s books is hard. And I’m not that good an illustrator. Writing for the young adult market is the hardest of them all.
I turned to my sister and asked her what is my passion when it comes to writing. She has a great analytical way of judging someone and telling them what they need to hear.
“At the moment, all I ever see you interested in is memoirs, not stories,” she said.
“People’s lives are interesting.”
“Then write about that,” she said. I’m pretty sure she was rolling her eyes at me as she pointed out the obvious.
That was the push I needed. For years I had thought of writing my story. Putting my memoirs out there in the world. But…my stories would be boring. At least that’s what I told myself. No one would be interested in reading them.
Does it matter if no one reads my work?
It doesn’t. I write because I need to write. I write because I want to write. I’m going to put my story out there, and if someone reads it…then great, if not, that’s perfectly okay as well.