I finished high school with no clue about what I wanted to do with my life. I had eighteen years to think about it, but still no idea. Throughout school I’d been so focused on my grades that I didn’t give myself a chance to suss out any of my options. My schedule had revolved around studying or working and when I wasn’t doing either of those, I was too damn exhausted to do anything else.

Being outside a major city, when I finally graduated high school, all my friends accepted offers to universities that meant they would move away from home. But my first preference was something that I didn’t care about- so I made the decision to defer.

I was breaking the script. I was told my whole academic life that you work hard, get good results, figure out what you want to do with your life and then you move away from home. You do this to give yourself the best opportunities. But how could I do this when I didn’t know what I wanted?

By the time uni was starting, everyone moved. I was left with almost no one. Because I’d decided to take a gap year, I was left on my own.

We often hear about the perks of having a gap year, like travelling around the globe and saving loads of money and these can be bloody good options. The reality is though, it can be lonely. What happens when you’re not working? Or when the only two people you know are busy? What happens when you can’t find enough work to keep yourself busy as well as support the plans you had of freedom and travel?

Even though I struggled at the start, taking a gap year is something I think a lot of people should consider.

Taking a gap year meant I had time to improve the lifestyle I was living; exercising every day and eating healthier food and actually making time to do the things I wanted to do without the stress of studying.

Above all, a gap year gives you the chance to take a step back and consider what is best for you. You get to ask yourself what you really want without the pressure of teachers and without the stress of school clouding your judgement.

I’m not gonna lie, sometimes being the only one to take a gap year is hard. But, if you’re struggling through your time off, you’re not alone. It’s normal to feel a little lost and have no idea what the hell you’re doing with yourself. It’s normal to feel lonely while everyone else seems to run off and get started on their lives. But, at end of the day, it was a choice that you needed to make for you. When you finally decide to move on to the next chapter of your life, you’ll be ready. You’ll know exactly what you want, and you’ll be able to go out and get it.

by Chloe Fisher@livynicholls

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