Our very own YouthLiner tackles social expectations and why it’s OK to take a break.
Work really hard through high school, get good grades, apply to different schools, and finally go to college. That’s the path we are supposed to take, right? The pressure from society often makes it seem like going to college or university is the only way to find success in the future. There are many other options though, and I decided I needed to take a different path: a gap year.
Senior year of High School had been really difficult for me. I worked hard, I studied for tests, I got a job, I did everything I could to make myself look good for the schools I was applying to, but it was just too much. I got really depressed and used to cry in the bathrooms during class, I had no motivation to do well in school anymore, I skipped classes, and my grades started going down. I didn’t care about school at all, but I was so close to finishing I knew I had to just keep pushing through it. That was when the realization hit me that school wasn’t almost over. If I was finding it hard to complete a single, simple assignment in High School, what would it be like for four more painful years of college? I knew I couldn’t do it, I just needed a break. That’s when my school counselor suggested a gap year. I was unsure at first but the more I thought about it, the better it sounded.
I still applied for schools at the same time as everybody else, and still received my acceptance – and rejection – letters, but instead of committing, I asked to defer my decision for a year. It was such a relief to know that I had a place at a school, but that I had a year of no commitments or responsibilities ahead of me.
Taking a year out of school has been really good for my mental health. I have been able to dedicate time to myself, work on making healthier choices, and gain some more life experience that has helped shape who I have become. It was weird at the beginning being home while everybody else I knew went to school during the day, but I soon found ways to spend my time. I volunteer at Youthline and other organizations, work, coach soccer, and have plans to spend a month in Asia.
While it’s been hard for me seeing others at school, joining clubs, and making new friends while I stay home, I think I made the right decision for myself and my well-being. The social pressure to ‘succeed’ can be really overwhelming at times, but I urge anybody who is considering what to do next, or unsure about what direction to go in their lives, to remember that you forge your own path, and that the world is your oyster.