Something that few people hear during high school is that they don’t need to go to college, but they tend to just find that out on their own, typically the hard way. Going away to school or going to school at all is not for everyone and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just as normal and acceptable to not attend college because it’s not the path they want to take. It’s not a less successful or worse choice, contrary to the pressure from society and potentially family members and friends. You will find more meaning in your life if you take your own path. But say you decide that you do want a higher education and are set on graduating, but are struggling to find motivation or are going through a tough time personally. This is something that happens all of the time, yet many students keep pushing through when they really need a break. Forcing yourself to go through school when you are burnt out will only exhaust you more and will show through poorer grades and lower quality work.
I have personal experience with taking a semester off from college, and it is easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was going through a tough time personally and dealing with excruciating anxiety that took up all of my time and energy. I knew that I could not return to school, but I was so afraid to leave. I had been going to school straight through for my entire life and never knew any different. It’s scary doing something different than everyone else, thinking of how you will explain it to them and wondering what they might think or say. But you have to put yourself and your best interests first and make your happiness a priority. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some incredible people who encouraged me to love myself when I couldn’t, supported me in my decision when I walked away, and didn’t see me any different than before. I did however experience tremendous growth when I left school, especially spiritually. I grounded myself and strengthened my faith as well as gained a new perspective on life. I now live by these philosophies and do my best to give advice when I can because I know it’s what I needed during that difficult period in my life. I also realized what’s truly important to me, met some incredible people I would not have met if I hadn’t deviated off the “plan” and travelled to some really cool places I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to visit otherwise. I was struggling and made a tough choice to leave school. I even had some people who did not support my decision, but even though it was painful when it was happening, looking back I know that everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t change a thing. I was able to return to college happier, healthier and more confident. That broken person was able to heal and make herself whole again. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was what I needed.
There are so many benefits to slowing down and giving yourself some time off. It allows you to relax and reevaluate what you really want. There is so much more to life than your immediate responsibilities, and you should never sacrifice your mental health and wellbeing for work, school or other obligations that should not take priority. College will always be there if you want to go, but you only get one life and should live it the way you want to. Leave and return or never look back, but do it because you want to and not because it’s what you think would make someone else happy. There is no such thing as a five-year plan, as a way that your life is “supposed to be.” Ignore all of that background noise and become the star of your own journey. Making your own path may be more difficult than taking the road more travelled because less people have gone that way, but trust me, it will so be worth it.