As the rest of my peers go on to graduate this semester, I still don't regret my decision to take time off of college. Despite my mother's disapproval and her constant reminder that "most people who take a semester off don't go back," taking a year off of school was the best decision I've made for myself as an adult-- because it was what was right for me.
So I don't need your judgment.
Like many new college students, I moved out on my own to start my academic journey. I moved to a brand new town, hours away from home, and picked up a part-time job to cover my expenses. But then adulthood fricken smacked me in the face. I was prepared for life on my own, but I was not prepared for everything life was going to throw at me. After two semesters, I was depressed, I lost my full-ride scholarship, and I hated my major. I felt stranded in this new life and was contemplating giving up and going back home.
But I loved my job and I loved my independence and I wanted to make my new life work. So I took a break from school to focus on making this new city feel like home. In those two semesters off I brought my dog home, I met my boyfriend, and I moved up in my job. I took the time to discover new passions, I started writing, and I found a love for fitness. I got in a better mental state and worked enough to put away money for future semesters.
And when I got back on my feet, I enrolled in school again. With a new major at a new university-- which my job pays for.
Yet so many people made me feel like crap for deciding to take time off. I was met with the stigma of being that kid who took a year off of school. I dealt with constant exasperated reminders from my mother to "make sure I go back" and judgment from friends who didn't agree with my decision-- despite it being what I needed at the time.
So there is absolutely nothing wrong with needing time off to catch your breath. It's okay to take time to figure out what your passion is. It's okay to take time for your mental health. It's okay to take time to figure out your finances. And you know what, it's okay to take time off if that's what YOU want to do. It's your academic journey, it's your future, it's your life! And at the end of the day, that's all that matters.
So let's get rid of the stigma that taking a break from school is a bad thing. Instead, let's celebrate the students who know how to make a difficult adult decision and do what's best for them. Because that kind of maturity should be celebrated, not shamed.