My gap year was one of the best years of my life. I had two amazing holidays, next to no responsibilities and really found out more about who I am as a person.

But, all good things must come to an end and I was left having to say goodbye to my gap year.

When you’re on a gap year, you feel limitless–until you have to start thinking about uni, TAFE, an apprenticeship or job.

Starting a structured life again is daunting and adapting to that can seem scary. When you’re locked down to a study routine, you can’t work as much as you did, travel as much as you did, or even just put aside time to sit down and chill the way you did during your gap year.

You really need to think about what you want from your post school life and honestly, it’s more than okay if you need another year to figure yourself out.

In saying that, the structure that comes after a gap year isn’t always bad. Study and work can give you a sense of productivity that gap years sometimes can’t and, plot twist, productivity is good!

Getting into a routine can help you access the goals you want to achieve. Gap years can also sometimes be a bit lonely, so throwing yourself in the deep end of campus or work life can help you find friends, join clubs and societies and sometimes, a greater sense of purpose.

If you do struggle to come to terms with your new study/work life, something that will help smooth the transition over is planning a new trip.

While your finances could be a little low, having something to look forward to, even months in advance, will make working hard that little bit easier.

If all of these options aren’t working out for you, you’ve got to ponder the idea– should you take some more time off figuring things out?

One of the greatest lessons I learnt in my gap year was that my life and career wasn’t on a timer.

There’s not many times in your life where you’re this free so take advantage of it. Your life will not end if you start uni in your 20s or never start at all.

You have time to try out the career path less travelled, so go with your gut and do what works for you. If you want to jump into study go for it.

But, if you don’t want your gap year end, find a way to keep it going. Work for a little bit then go on another trip, start a short course instead of committing to a degree, study part time and keep your options open.

Forget the idea that you need to complete certain milestones at a specific age; we’re past the time of everyone following a set timeline to success so take advantage of it.