Getting to know yourself is a tough journey. But, our writer Heba Khalili put herself up for the challenge, after the many years of school, by taking a break, a Gap year.
My Gap Year
And why it was the best choice I could’ve made for myself after High school
When I told my parents I wanted to take a Gap year, they were skeptical of my choice, and the moment they knew I haven’t applied to any universities, they realized they were going to be stuck with my for at least six months.
Taking a gap year was an easy choice for me, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and I wanted to follow my dreams, but after only following tasks and deadlines for the past two years in high school I had no idea what that dream was.
High school was mentally draining and after spending 14 years in the same place, I didn’t know who I was without it, I was the person people defined me as, and I didn’t want to be that girl. I wanted to be the one to define myself away from the influences that were always around me, and that wasn’t easy because after a while of self reflection, I didn’t know which thoughts belonged to me and which ones didn’t.
Everyone seemed to be worried for me and my future, but I knew that I just needed a plan, I was ready to dream, and as unrealistic and far-fetched my dreams were they gave me a sense of purpose.
After Graduation and all through summer, my friends were getting ready to go to their universities, and I was there watching them go off to follow their dreams, it was a lonely road at times, especially that I had no one I could relate to and I had to find inspiration through other people who shared their gap year experiences online.
When I met with people I knew they always asked me:
“Do you regret taking a Gap year?”, or,
“Do you feel like you’re wasting your time?” and my absolute favorite, “Did you fail any subjects?”
I always tried to stick to the truth; that it was a choice, and it was boring at times but I never regretted it, because I know that it’s something I needed to do for myself.
It wasn’t like I was never going to university, but I was just taking my time and a lot of people didn’t understand why on earth I would do that, and thought I was missing out on a grand experience; but I knew university was waiting for me, once I found who I was.
So, I went on a journey of self discovery, I started writing in a Journal, filtering through my thoughts, I took down all the band posters I had on my wall. It was my chance to start fresh, and despite the waves of doubt, loneliness and depression it put me through, I was some-what happier and more confident than I felt in years. Every choice I made was mine, and mine alone.
I was struck by bouts of nostalgia whenever I spoke to friends or looked through pictures from my time in school, and I was glad I had time to process all the sudden changes before I threw myself into a new environment.
My gap year was less exciting that I thought it would be, I didn’t travel the world, but I realized I didn’t need to travel the world to have new experiences, I got to know myself, I had the chance to face my insecurities, fears. and weaknesses, and it took me a long time to get rid of the toxic energy I usually felt had surrounded me in school, due to stress and toxic friendships that I didn’t know were toxic at the time.
I learned to value my mental health, above all things and to this day I’m thankful that I have listened to my gut feeling, and made the choice to just take a break, for once.
Therefore, if you went through the same feelings I did, and you’re considering taking a gap year, and you truly think it would benefit your mental health, I think you should go for it!
Gap years are different for everyone, some people end up regretting it and others have the best time of their lives, and some just go through the waves of boredom, and inspiration, as I did.
Facing your demons won’t be easy, and loneliness will be a regular guest, self doubt will find a way to creep its way into your thoughts, but as long as you hold onto your dreams, and the reasons you decided to take time off, by the time university rolls around I would only hope your experience provides you with inspiration, confidence, brightness in your eyes and complete faith in yourself and the person you got to know who was within you all along.