A gap year can be incredibly eye-opening, heartbreaking, transformative, and powerful. I still remember mine to be by far the darkest of times yet be pivotal in the best of ways.
From senior year itself, I was set on going to Pakistan to study medicine. Studied for the entrance exam only to remember to submit my application, after the due date. Went through the whole tedious process of documentation for which I had to travel to scout universities in person since no one would pick up the phone.
Through the whole process, my mental health kept deteriorating. Upon my acceptance letter, I started questioning if this is what I wanted to do in life? Did I want to invest so much of my time and family’s finance into this? Was this my choice? Or a pinnacle of a decision upon culmination of years of being told that I am to be a doctor as the eldest daughter of the family.
I don’t know how my parents were supportive of the decision I took, but I decided to take time off. Most of the months were a blur of research. I mean a lot of research, checking out various degrees, talking to various people, writing a list of pros and cons, and spending money aimlessly on admissions and career counseling.
But aside from that, I wasn’t sleeping well, I felt stuck, as all my friends began college, meeting new people and I felt like the forgotten one as they all became busy in their exciting chapters of their lives.
Bounded by choice to home, the days were just the sun dissolving into the moon and vice versa. I started spiraling into this circle of confusion, not knowing what I wanted in life, what career intrigued me, or having reason to wake up the next morning. It got dark real quick. Every action, emotion was pushing me further off a cliff.
But then truly, if it weren’t for my mom pushing me to get out of bed, and forcefully enrolling me into a yoga class in the morning, I wouldn’t have started on this momentum.
I started journaling. I had a rant station. I started pouring everything out of me into alphabets and strokes. During this dark time, came the birth of @beautiful_sensitive_soul (have probably taken down most of those posts now). On the path of healing, I found what I loved. The more dark matter that was penned, the more the darkness came out as various shades of hues and the lighter I felt. The actions that healed me, gave me a purpose. I had a new addition to myself. A renewed sense of purpose.
Without education looming over my head, came an insatiable appetite for self-discovery, introspection, and skill cultivation. I started applying for various volunteering opportunities, meeting new people, learning more about myself, and the world around me through the challenges faced. Things I would not have had a chance to engage fully in had I pursued the idea of utilitarian productivity.
Though this gap year served as a breather between two phases of education, the pressure to be overly productive during the gap year was quite overwhelming. I constantly found myself oscillating between wanting to get (a lot of) shit done and not wanting to move a muscle.
Needless to say, taking a gap year is quite the experience in itself. But for the most part, it’s worth it because we end up learning so much about ourselves and what it is we want in our lives (to an extent). Otherwise, let’s be honest, life is just a series of lessons one after the other – some good and some bad. Your gap year could be either or both. Who knows.