I took a gap year after my final semester in college. I’m glad I detoured to an unconventional path in life.
If you are a recent college graduate, everyone is busy inquiring about your future. You are expected to choose between a master’s degree or a job. But I chose none. Unlike my fellow mates, my list of preferences seemed unusual and unheard of.
What’s the first thought that tends to pop in your head when you hear people talk about a gap year? Let’s be frank. Being a middle-class Indian girl the only time I saw somebody taking a gap year was after 12th. Just so they could prepare for the entrance exams. And no, that didn’t urge me to step aside from the rat race. In fact, I wanted to understand the reality of the world apart from the four-walled rooms. The idea of learning from people and nature kept me nudging to draft a year-long journey for myself. And did I succeed?
Well, yes and no.
It took a year and a half to plan my gap year journey, which also seized a toll on my mental health in ways I find it hard to pen it down. I drafted a perfect plan (it seemed smooth and flawless in my head) but I was naïve enough to think it would be executed exactly how I planned. If you’ve ever stepped on an unusual path of life, you surely come across a group of spectators and pessimists trying to convince you of how “wrong” this decision is. Now, it’s important to toss those vibes far away from your head!
So, the journey began.
Nevertheless, reality struck me hard when I faced hardship. Nature can be unpredictable and intimidating especially when you are a newbie. My year-long journey came to an abrupt halt in the first 3 months. A thunderstorm and landslide back in Himachal Pradesh hampered my schedule but I couldn’t even blame nature for doing her part.
That incident just changed the entire vibe of my journey, from thereafter everything became spontaneous. I was tiptoeing around cities and states. I started enjoying the uncertainties of life, something which I would’ve complained about if I still stayed in my city.
When you come from a family who never mutters a word about gap years, it’s intimidating. let’s be real, everybody is worried about the break and discontinuity of dates in your resume. The constant arguments and lectures on “why you shouldn’t break the loop” motivated me more to get away from the craziness of our society. 12 + 3 years of studying in an educational institute was enough to make me understand the toxicity of our so-called learning centers. Don’t you see the exploitation of minds and creativity here? Without any halts or pauses in our system, we are expected to bring fruitful results. And if we could only see the loopholes here, one would realize the brutality of human kinds.
You never really get a chance to sit back and analyze your own life in ways you want it to be, “Is this making me happy? Am I learning skills which would help me live, or is this just for survival?” in fact we don’t even hear our elders asking these important questions to us! Instead, I decided to ask them myself and started connecting to people on a national level. All those long drafted emails, “we’ll get back in touch with you” phone calls were worth a while.
I traveled to different cities and states in less than a year.
My journey started at home, Bangalore, Karnataka, and landed all the way to North India. Throughout my gap I completed various internships and volunteering programs, in fact, there were times when people invited me to their place just to know me better! Imagine going around cities and states to live, breathe the sense of freedom you’d never tasted before! Sounds intriguing, isn’t it? it was a very wholesome and productive journey of my life so far. I learned what’s actually like to work with a diverse set of individuals and communities, made and met some fascinating people whom I now proudly call my friends.
Being a student is hard, and not many people talk about it. The constant pressure of moving ahead, improving grades becomes so lethal that bouncing back to normal can lead you to ways of unresolved mental health struggles. The gap calmed me down by giving me a sense of responsibility for my very own life. I gained a new perspective when I stepped out of my bubble into the real world. Trust me, it widens your mindset in ways you could have never imagined!
Everything feels alive and real!
From running behind BMTC buses back at home to being lost on track in the mountain valleys; I never knew my life could completely change its course.
People often ask me how exactly my life transformed in such a short span of time. It’s funny how some expect me to show materialistic results and proofs of the contentment. But I’m afraid to say not all transformations and achievements can be shown externally. You reflect your transformation with your presence and actions. I was fortunate enough to spend an ample amount of time with nature. Moreover, after a certain period, I became part of her, on the inside, we were one. Later, I learned to gather the courage to deal with situations and people.
Nevertheless, a gap year isn’t just a year off, it’s the most precious time of your life to understand yourself in an age-old slow fashion. This break and pause from the conventional route of society gives you clarity in life. I’m also grateful to be able to acquire some street survival skills which trust me an educational institute will fail to offer you!
Will I take a gap year ahead in future? Definitely!
This article was originally published on Anjali's website.
Find the original post here: https://fivefeetdwells.com/my-gap-year-experience-journey-towards-transformation-and-beyond/
Anjali is a creative enthusiast who finds herself busy weaving art and stories. Apart from the occasional existential crisis, she also plays the role of an insect curator, nurturing remnants of nature. To fuel her soul she dwells her ways in the valleys of Gaia and bows down to the simplicity of her being.