When I graduated from college, I had a well laid out plan for the rest of my life.
Sorry for telling such a bold-faced lie.
Let’s be real. The closer I got to graduation day, the more panicked and uncertain I was about life after undergrad. What would I do? Where would I live? How would I know if the major I’d spent the last four years completing was really what I wanted to spend the rest of my life pursuing? My friends had been accepted into graduate schools, had landed high-salaried positions with Fortune 500 companies, and were moving all over the country to work for major nonprofits. Meanwhile, I thought I wanted to go to graduate school…but I wasn’t really sure. I thought I wanted to get my Ph.D.…but I wasn’t really sure. I thought I wanted to move to New York or California or Florida…but I wasn’t really sure. So many questions and very few answers.
Let me preface the following by saying that for those who are sure of exactly what they want to do, by all means, chase your dreams! Follow that path wherever it leads you as soon as you can. But as much as I wanted it to be, that just wasn’t the case for me. So I made the decision to take a year off from school, and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. In the year between last May and the day I started my current educational pursuits this year, I’ve learned more about myself than I ever imagined. I would love to say that I traveled the world and backpacked through Europe and realized my life’s calling on top of the Swiss alps…but all of that requires money…and ya girl is broke. Instead, I did work that I thought I was interested in and discovered that I HATED it. Then I started a job that scared me and challenged me and pushed me to my limits and I LOVED it. And now, because of those experiences, I feel more confident in my future than I ever have before.
So here’s my advice: be honest with yourself. Life is too short for us to be spending time doing things that make us miserable. Allow yourself time to step back and be clear about the direction you see your life going. Don’t be afraid to say that you need some time to figure it all out! College gives us four years to plan for the rest of our lives…but sometimes that’s not enough time. Everybody’s journey is not the same, so some of us walk across the stage and walk boldly into the rest of our lives, and some of us don’t. So if taking a year off is the best decision for you, then do it! And as Thoreau said, go confidently in the direction of your dreams.