A Gap Year Was Just What I Needed

A Gap Year Was Just What I Needed

Taking a year off between high school and college was the best thing I could have done for so many reasons.

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Everyone around me was buzzing with excitement about their acceptances to their dream university and I didn't feel the same. I was accepted to every school I applied to, but none of them felt right. At my high school, if you didn't go to college, you would have been deemed a failure and that is not what I wanted my reputation to be. When the day came, I sat down at a computer to accept my admission to a college. I was in a panic mode, and I knew that's not what I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had no idea if that was where I wanted to be, so I exited the website and came up with a plan.

After graduation, I boarded a flight to Denver, Colorado. I was alone on a plane going 1,000 miles west to a place I've never been. In a short amount of time, I knew I had made the right decision.

I spent eight months in the Rocky Mountains learning how to do the "adult thing." I worked 40+ hours a week in freezing temperatures and a ton of snow, making ten dollars an hour. In a resort town, ten dollars is not a lot of money. I lived on Wonder bread and eggs, I cooked on my hotplate on the top of my mini fridge. I was shown what it's like to work for the things I want, and it taught me to appreciate everything I've always been handed so easily, and that was something I really needed.

Throughout my adventure, I met so many different people in all different stages of life. I think that's the most important aspect of my entire trip. By working and living with people young and old, I learned different skills, living habits, and ways of life which I am forever grateful for. These people had shown me more about life in eight months than I had learned in my entire life, and without this experience, I would have never been introduced to half of the things I was introduced to.

I hiked 14,000-foot mountains, watched the X-Games in Aspen, attended endless concerts, and became a better snowboarder by having the chance to do it every day. Without my friends and taking this leap, I would have been sitting in a classroom wondering what I could have been doing instead. Because of taking time off, I am now back in class, able to focus on my work and doing better than I ever have before.

The most important part of my gap year was finding myself. I proved to myself that I am strong and independent, and I can achieve any goal I set as long as I work hard and have fun along the way. Before I left, I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. Upon my return home, I realized I needed to go to college to receive a higher education to better myself. Having a full-time job and being out in the real world helped me to narrow down what I really want to be and what I want to achieve for myself. I learned how to truly live and that there is no set path I need to take because this is my own life to create.

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

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17 Pieces Of Advice From The Most Iconic Women Characters In Television

Their wisdom is priceless.

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For many of us, this time of the year is crunch time: we're losing motivation, but we have to push through in order to survive. We've been working hard for the entire semester (or maybe even the whole year, if you're that ambitious), but we're starting to burn out.

Personally, my burn-out period has been defined by binge-watching television to avoid accomplishing any actual assignments. Although this may seem unproductive to the naked eye, it actually has encouraged me to push through my difficulties and persevere. Sometimes you need a fresh perspective, and watching the lives of my favorite female characters continues to motivate me. There are plenty of quotes that are particularly influential, but a select few from these incredible women really speak to me.

1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva, Jane the Virgin

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To teach you that when you're overwhelmed, sometimes all you have to do is just breathe through it.

2. Sheila Jackson, Shameless (US)

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As a reminder that it's okay to mess up, as long as you learn from it.

3. April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation

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When I don't know how to study for a test, this teaches me the tools that I need.

4. Rebecca Bunch, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

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Making sure you know that you have a support system you can turn to when it gets too hard.

5. Marisol Gonzales, Orange is the New Black

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Just a reminder to be humble in all of your accomplishments.

6. Robin Scherbatsky, How I Met Your Mother

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Showing the importance of honesty with all people in life.

7. Topanga Lawrence, Boy Meets World

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Always illustrating the true meaning of love, even if my personal love life is practically nonexistent during finals week.

8. Cece Parikh, New Girl

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Encouraging you to push through all of the struggles this time of the year may bring.

9. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

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To show that it's okay to spend a night studying for an exam instead of going out.

10. Kimmy Schmidt, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Although I do think that smiling during a math exam might make people think you're a little strange.

11. Cristina Yang, Grey's Anatomy

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To remind me that I'm worth more than my eye bags right now.

12. Tyra Banks, America's Next Top Model

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This may seem generic, but we all know it means so much more coming from Tyra Banks.

13. Kate Pearson, This is Us

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Serving as motivation to improve, because who says you can't raise that 68 to a 94?

14. Carla Espinosa, Scrubs

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Whether that's your friend, a potential love interest, or your professor after your fifth time going to office hours.

15. Phoebe Buffay, Friends

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I know it's hard to not hate the pressure, the stress, and school in general, but try to keep a positive mindset.

16. Oprah Winfrey, Oprah Winfrey Network

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Anything Oprah says is truth, so use this her wisdom as your main source of motivation.

17. Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project

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You are stronger than you think you are.

You will make it through this difficult time, and you will be better for it. Tyra Banks said so.

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