Recently, I watched a friend breaking the news of taking a possible ‘gap-year’ to her parents. As per norms, World War Three proceeded to follow. Her parents, like any other respectable upper-middle class members of society, reacted in the only way they knew- ‘Log kya kahenge?’
I hesitantly broke into verse about how that doesn’t define what we want for ourselves, and how that sentiment has single-handedly ruined so many dreamers. But, as expected, I was given a ‘don’t start your hippy free-thinking’ look from my friend, and was asked quite politely, to bugger off.
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This got me thinking, on why taking a gap year, was such a taboo in this country? From all the soul-searching books I’ve read and all the Thought Catalog articles I have saved, it seems to be encouraged all over the world by teachers, friends and family.
In fact, following Malia Obama’s declaration to take a year off before she joins freshman year at Harvard, the Internet has broken viral, nodding approvals and speaking on how this will cipher to her advantage in the near future.
So why are we still stuck in this rut, where taking a gap-year is looked down upon for those ‘average students’ who couldn’t get in anywhere or acceptably reserved for those ‘rich kids’ who don’t need to care about an education, ‘kyuki papa ka business toh hai hi.”
This is wrong on so many blood-boiling levels, and it’s about time this regressive conception needs to change. Taking a gap-year will not only give you the break you deserve to figure yourself out, but will also help you figure out what you want to do professionally and in the long-run.
The first thing that parents and nosy, intruding relatives need to realize is that, a gap year is not synonymous with an ‘off-year’. It’s not a- languishing in bed till noon, waking up to eat and watch sitcoms all day- kind of year. Taking a gap year offers you the chance to indulge yourself in things you have never tried before! You can travel solo to places you’ve never been or initiate a project and oversee its execution till the very end. You have the world to choose from, and you will grow with each meeting, each adventure. So, don’t hold back!
As clichéd as it may sound, a gap-year will help you find your true calling. Some success stories of true legends are bewildering, considering that most of them did a 360 change of professions, some even at a later age, to make it truly big in the world. You may have studied a certain stream for four whole years, but that doesn’t negate the fact that maybe you’re aptitude and interests lie elsewhere. So take this year to work in all kinds of places and industries- you could go from even engineering to media- and find whatever you’re meant to work in for the next fifty odd years of your life. It’s exhilarating.
About what makes you tick, how well you work in a team, how dedicated you are to a project- everything. Take on freelance gigs and make sure it’s the ones with deadlines so you can challenge yourself to the minute. File reports, learn a few softwares and keep creating something new everyday, even if it’s a one-liner you’d think would get a hundred retweets. Discover your personal growth much before you’re forced to once you start working at a Company, so you have the advantage of using this discovery to blow their minds in your first week there. Be the original hipster, learn things before they’re taught to you and well, show off a bit along the way.
This could be packing an overnight rucksack and finally making that solo travel. This could be teaching a hundred slum children how to read the alphabets. This could be learning how to kick-box. Hell, it could even be joining ballet lessons or learning a new software. Try everything, live your own adventure. This time in your life, with no provident funds to maintain, no mortgage payments to relieve, no mandatory trips to the doctor and no mouths to feed, is probably not going to come back. So make every moment, every memory you make, the best one yet!
The things you experience in a gap year, prepares you for your future- unpredictable or not. You’re well-prepped for all kinds of situations- you’ll know how to deal with the people. How to work effectively in a team and sort through the many ego clashes and difference in opinions that may arise. You’ll know how to take-over a massive project and execute it effortlessly, while your fellow classmates or colleagues watch, awe-struck. Most importantly, you’ll discover your strengths and you’ll maximise on them because damn, you know you’re good.
Finally, do it for the story you’ll be telling for the next fifty years. Do it to incite passion in every new person you meet. Do it, to inspire a new generation of dreamers, who are holding back from their true selves. Do it, so someday, someone can cite you as their example to their own story. Make yourstory, the best one there is.
So, what are you waiting for?
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)