Day #21 Why I Really Took A Gap Year

My second post ever on this blog was entitled “Why A Gap Year?” and I explained all of the reasons why I thought that taking a gap year was the best option for me. What I said and believed was that I was taking a gap year to buy myself time as I had absolutely no idea about what I wanted to do after college. I assumed that, if I took a gap year, I would magically find something that I wanted to pursue and I would find my feet. Now, looking back, I completely understand why I thought that and why I actually needed to take a gap year.

If you took pre-gap year Claire and put her next to post- gap year Claire, you would think they were two different people. 18 year old Claire was a little bit of an anxious mess. I was having panic attacks about anything and everything and it was pretty much an everyday occurrence. It was exhausting for both myself and my parents. When I was there, I didn’t see how college could have been the cause of it but, since I left, I haven’t had another panic attack. In all honestly, I genuinely believe that the mindset I was in was so negative that I actually brought the mental negativity on myself and that triggered the majority of my panic attacks. Ask anybody in my lessons and they would back up the fact that I was just getting into more of a state the further into my second year of college I went.

When I left after completing my A Levels, I felt like a completely different person. I went straight into a full time summer job and handled it absolutely fine with not one single panic attack. I had to drive 45 minutes to work and I worked in an incredibly busy place so, if you were to guess which one would cause a panic attack: a busy place far away from home or a college full of people I knew… you wouldn’t think the answer would be college. But, I went from strength to strength throughout my summer job, my pre-christmas job and my tutoring job at Yipiyap and now I can still say that my last few days at college were the last days I felt a panic attack cloud above my head. This doesn’t mean that I have been anxiety free for a year but I have been as close to it as I think I could get to and that will do for me.

So, why do I think I took a gap year? Because I think I knew deep down that I just needed some time out. I needed to take a break from having to try and look beautiful and impress and be cool. I have never been cool and I really don’t care if my eye shadow is Chanel or Natural Collection. Not having to be surrounded with people my age looking like they have their lives together has been like a detox. The peer pressure at my college was horrendous and I think it just cracked me. Everybody seemed to have 100s of friends and went to parties every weekend but still showed up fresh faced and beautiful on Monday morning to receive their A* in their test they did last Friday. Without realising, I think I just felt like the only thing I could do is to flick my “fight or flight” switch and hope for the best, which is obviously what I did. Having a gap year meant that I could disable that switch for a year and relax, do what I want and recuperate. It has been amazing and, even though it has had its challenges, I wouldn’t be in the healthy mental mindset that I am now without completing a gap year.

I will be talking more about my gap year and how I have found it nearer to September. I have had the weirdest of gap years and I can’t wait to properly reflect on it. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I will see you tomorrow with day #22!

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4 Comments

  1. August 11, 2017 / 20:26

    Taking time for yourself is a good thing, even if you did it inadvertently. So glad you’re feeling better.

  2. August 12, 2017 / 15:06

    Wonderful post! This one really hits home for me. I still believe that I really needed to take a gap year between high school and college. I was also an anxious mess before college, I was dealing with major depression at the time, and I had NO idea what I wanted to study. My parents made me push though, and I ended up with a ton of student loan debt because I transferred schools three times…

    I’m so happy that you were able to take time for yourself to get things worked out! There is so much pressure in the world to go DO, go be successful, that often we forget to take things slow, or take a break.

  3. August 12, 2017 / 19:21

    This was such an interesting post, and such a unique perspective. Usually when people post about their decision to take a gap year it’s to talk about travelling or saving up money, but to know it’s for similar reasons as why I’m planning to take one is really reassuring. I think mainstream education really isn’t for me, and I burn out really quickly, which makes my anxiety so much worse. I know academically I can handle university, but I think I need a break beforehand.
    It seems like you’ve managed to achieve lots in the past 12 months and it’s great to hear that your anxiety has eased somewhat since you stopped attending college!

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