My Gap Year: A Personal Story
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My Gap Year: A Personal Story

My story about taking a gap year and its benefits for me.

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My Gap Year: A Personal Story
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“I don’t work for free” is a mantra I have come to know and love. If I don’t value my time, my work, who will? Even with volunteer work, if you’re not getting some benefit, there is something better you could be doing with your time and spreading good around the world as a plus. Is this cynical? Probably, but the world demands cynicism if anyone wants to be part of reality. I personally am an advocate of optimism with a healthy dose of cynicism. Always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, as the saying goes. Where did I learn all this though? How can some nineteen-year-old claim to know these things? There is not much to it, surprisingly. I spent a year in the real world, outside of the education system, and that experience has changed me greatly.

Here in America, there is a culture of college, only college, and college as soon as you are able. Anything not contributing to college is going to be considered a waste and a possible weakness in your resume. Christina Schoefer says in her article on the U.C. Berkeley Alumni Magazine that American culture is “suspicious of leisure, they put a premium on quantifiable achievement, defining success as climbing the ladder one rung at a time.” Taking a year off isn’t often considered as a good idea here, and doing so works against you and can cause more harm than good in many people’s eyes.

Taking a year off is not all that bad though. In my own experience, I went to college straight out of high school, and I really did not do to well (story for another time perhaps). Needless to say, I came back home and I had to get my batteries recharged. Now most people take a gap year to see the world;I took one to work. Which is a valid choice as well, and sometimes a necessity for certain students who can’t afford college right after high school. I worked as a car salesman which, believe me, no one becomes unless their life has gone unpredictably wrong. The people I worked for were a mixed bag, and my coworkers were the same. Car sales is also basically a retail job, so the customers ranged from pleasant to downright awful. But I got to learn about the world; I learned about people, and what they truly are. Nothing brings the worst out of a person than buying an expensive necessity. One of the worst customers I had was a pastor for a church, some of the best would be considered failures by society.

It is impossible to experience real people and the real world in a classroom. Coworker dynamics, talking to different people from all walks of life, and general life skills like responsibility, ownership of mistakes, and driving stick all came from my year out of classroom. These skills will take me further than many of the things I learned in high school. My year off has also made me a better student; it made me yearn for college more than I thought I would. I could not really procrastinate at my job, so those habits died there, and now I do what I need to do. I get to do what I love, which is learn.

Take a year off, I encourage it. The traditional gap year is amazing, Europe is beautiful and full of people to interact with and learn from. Can’t afford it? Take a year off and experience life at a real job. If none of these options work, then go straight into college. I always encourage people to do what is best for their life. Just remember, there are never just two choices in life decisions.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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