This post is a little different than others because it’s from first hand experience. But I wanted to talk about what it’s like being a gap year student without the travel, without the big adventures.
I decided on taking a gap year when my Mother fell ill with a really bad vitamin D defiency, I thought the extra pair of hands around the house would be helpful. But when you mention to people you’re having a gap year, the first thing they ask is “So where are you travelling to?.”
It’s a lot less colourful when you recite to them why you’re on a gap year. The look of disappointment on their faces- they were secretly hoping you were jetting off to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, instead you are jetting off to and from work.
Although, I am really glad I decided to take a gap year purely for financial reasons. My parents are on extremely low income, there was no way they could have helped with my Uni fees or accommodation deposit. In my family, at the age of eighteen you have to start paying rent and I’m bewildered that next to none of my friends have to do this. At times I’m jealous that there are more people my age with a lot more money than myself, but I can’t compare myself to other people- I’m just trying to get ahead.
I had three jobs at the end of last year to keep myself afloat. I was a sales assistant by day, a barmaid by night and I still managed to wake up at six every morning for the third- taking children to school who’s parents worked full time jobs and couldn’t make the school run.
In those months, I was sleepless, drained and I would barely eat. I had places to go, things to do and I learnt the meaning of hard work. I had retail customers patronise me, bar customers spit in my face and children answering me back. All I kept thinking was, ‘this is to live with. This is so you can pay your rent and save some money.’ It didn’t last long. I quit my bar job, standing nine hours on your feet surrounded by drunk people who sexualise you, laugh at you and spit at you is not worth it for minimum wage.
A lot of people who I thought were my friends, couldn’t understand I had no spare time. There was no understanding or support over the fact my parents couldn’t whip £9,000 out of their pockets so I could quit work and get drunk with them. These are the people I no longer need in my life. People who support you when you’re hustling each day, working to the grind and still waking up positively the next day are the people you need in your life. Not the ones that slaughter you and your family for it.
When you do have free time (which is rare) you begin to really work on yourself. You realise you are going to be starting University soon and you have a chance to start as the person you want to be. Maybe you start eating healthily or getting more creative- for me I’ve been more charismatic and intuitive.
There are some points when it starts to feel like one overdrawn summer holiday. You crave to learn, you desire the information and your curiosity kicks in. These are the moments you will remember most. There have been countless times where I’ve been in bed, researching the history of South Korea, or trying to learn a new language. You’ll be up at three am sometimes, writing passages or learning a new song on guitar- anything to enrich you. You even learn to cook on a gourmet level to try and impress your soon to be new flat mates.
I have ten months until I start university and I’m so excited- I have been excited for this for two years now. But I’m glad I took this year out. It’s been a really big journey and I’m excited to see how the rest of it goes.