AH, the magical, mysterious gap year.
Urban Dictionary definition: the time spent while you have a visibly broken tooth, but are either too afraid of the dentist or too broke to get it repaired.
“What’s wrong with your face?”
“I’m having a gap year!”
Think you got the wrong end of the stick, Urban Dictionary.
Unless you plan on using said stick to traipse through the Amazon rainforest while on your gap year, I’d ignore any future advice from Urban Dictionary.
A gap year is the time after high school, generally between graduating from year 12 and your first year of tertiary education, where people ‘find themselves’, travel and work their butts off to earn study allowances.
What did I do for my gap year?
Nothing exciting, to my disappointment.
But hey, I’m sure I’ll have a crazy Contiki tour at some stage of my life.
The purpose of my story today is to help you have an awesome gap year.
Ironic, coming from someone who didn’t really have an epic gap year, but hey, I can tell you what I should have done or wanted to do!
First thing I would recommend: while you are still at school, keep your eyes on the lookout for jobs that might start popping up.
(A clue, businesses will start hiring extra workers before the mad Christmas rush).
But don’t overload yourself going cray trying to find work when you are finishing off year 12.
I think the perfect balance in a gap year requires a bit of work, a bit of play, and lots of memories.
(Yes, I sound like a sap, but just go with me here).
The time after high school is precious.
For me, it was the time where 50 trillion things happened, but those things helped me choose what I wanted for myself.
After that year, a fair amount of my mates took off to big P-city or across the country.
Your gap year is a time where true friendships really strengthen.
You figure out who you actually like, and who you just tolerated because you had to see them five days a week.
You also learn a bit more about yourself, because you aren’t surrounded by structure and timetables and rules.
You can do what you want, really (to some degree).
This is a slight risk for people such as myself, where the temptation to watch Vampire Diaries on repeat outweighs the desire to go to a late-night shift.
But hey, a gap year is a time for learning and learn I did.
I learned that your first real-life income is exciting yet can disappear pretty quickly, especially if you like nugs and shoes as much as me.
I learned that you have to make a conscious effort to see friends, because you no longer run into them in the school hallways.
I learned that it’s okay if you don’t go away on a massive holiday across the universe and meet George Clooney quite yet.
I’ll be perfectly honest here, I spent nights upset at myself because I wasn’t going on European holidays or going to uni parties in Perth, because I chose to stay in Albany instead.
But hey, I’m not too bad a person now.
So, three quick tips:
1: Take each day at a time; don’t freak out about things out of your control.
2: Follow your heart (yes, cheesy/10 but it’s true). If you want to do something, just do it. Eat your heart out, Shia LaBeouf.
3: Don’t let worry hold you back. There’s a quote one of my beautiful friends told me the other day – don’t borrow worry from tomorrow.
So, face your gap year head-on and go for it!