Taking a Post-Graduate Gap Year Doesn’t Mean You’re Falling Behind

Sometimes, we all need some time to figure out a new direction for our lives.

Photo by Luigi Estuye, LUCREATIVE® on Unsplash

There’s a certain pressure, especially in American society, to grow up fast.

From the moment you receive your high school diploma, you are expected to start figuring it out. Figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life.

The moment you become a post-college graduate, you are expected to find a job to start a career with. There’s very little grace period to find yourself.

That’s the society we are building in modern-day America. In the modern-day Western world.

Doubt about the post-graduate gap year

I moved to the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta a month after receiving my Bachelor’s degree.

I broke the news to everyone midway through my final semester. Their first question was, “What are you going to do over there?

They wanted to know if I was going to start my career there or if it was a temporary experiment.

That is when it occurred to me that taking a “gap year” after college isn’t too common. Nor is it near as acceptable as it should be within society’s norms.

I had no intentions of starting a career. Yet, that was a confusing answer to people. I told them I’d look for odd jobs such as teaching English and bartending. Still, they didn’t understand my lack of urgency to jump into a career.

I wanted to finally take some time for my self. I wanted a moment freedom. And time to figure out what it was that I actually wanted. But that was seen as lazy by some.

It’s true that it is possible to love your career — and, hopefully, some day I will. But the majority of postgraduates find themselves in the wrong work conditions to start their career. They get focused on trying to climb the corporate ladder so soon.

In the prime years of their life! I could not stand the thought of me spending those years trapped behind a desk that I wasn’t even sure I loved.

I witnessed one too many of my friends in the same post-graduate situation. They made the move to conformity when they weren’t ready for it. They called it ‘growing up’.

I didn’t want that to be me. I knew I had to choose something different.

During the first semester of my last collegiate year, I studied abroad. I studied in Malta and was in Europe for almost a year.

For those nine months, it seemed as if I could put my career on hold and everything would be OK. There was no rush to find job interviews. There was no need to improve my resume. There certainly wasn’t any pressure from my peers to jump into a career.

I wanted to recapture that exact feeling, but this time hold on to it as long as I could. So, the only reasonable move was to return to the tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean.

I tried to explain this to confused friends and family, and they acted as they understood. But, truthfully, they didn’t want to understand. It was the wrong move in their eyes. They judged me based off the pattern society has built for us. The mold we’re supposed to follow our entire lives.

Some started looking down on me. As if they had become better than me because they made the “right” move after college. Like I was a joke.

The right move for me

Moving to Europe — to a home that could slow life down — was the right move for me. It’s something I chose to do for myself.

I’m not scared to grow up. I am growing up. I’m learning more about myself now than ever before. I’m making choices for myself without following the directions of others.

I’m proud of myself. And I enjoy the hell out of it.

Life should be about making decisions that allow yourself to grow into the person you want to be. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with doing what you want with your life.

So, to those who say I’m scared of growing up, I disagree strongly. Maybe they’re the ones who are scared to be different.

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** This article was originally published at www.adamcheshier.com **

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