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Why Taking A Semester Off Isn’t Bad

I began last semester with such high expectations. I was ready for the best year yet! Then, I began to really uncover emotions I had internalized for not only weeks, but also years. I didn’t even realize I had done it to myself! Everything I’ve worked to overcome I tried to do by simply forgetting it ever existed. Sadly, I never even started to deal with it all until very early in my junior year. I was in such a hurry to get back to school, but then I realized there was no way for me to do my self-work AND be successful in my classes at the same time. So I looked at all the pieces and put it together that I could not only graduate on time, but could even graduate EARLY while being able taking a semester off. So, that’s just what I did.

I’m really bad at being sad and I don’t ever put blame on anyone else for the way I’m feeling. The problem became that with any negative feelings I just decided I was done feeling that way and was happy. However, the real problem became when I ran out of genuine happiness to cover up the negative feelings. I know that my actions and my personal thoughts come from me, and I’d done everything by myself for so long I forgot how to ask for help. We all make mistakes, and we make poor decisions. But that doesn’t make us bad people; it makes us human.

There are so many things I wish I would have known before I kept all of the emotions I had bottled up inside with nowhere to go, but three things I learned are extremely important and I want you all to remind yourself and others of these things.

First, grades don’t matter in the long run. Of course you should do your best and work towards the end goal because it makes the next step a little easier. But your grades do NOT define you as a person. Second, asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It makes you strong for knowing you can’t go through life alone. Lastly, YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND AT ANY TIME! College is the time we’re supposed to “find ourselves and plan the rest of our lives.” I’m calling BULL SH*T on this one. You don’t have to plan out anything. Except maybe your class schedule, but that’s just a technicality. Now, I’m not saying to disregard everything you ever heard that was important, but I AM saying that that one anatomy test (or class) you failed, doesn’t make you a bad person.

If you don’t want to be in college either finish faster or take time off! You’re wasting your time and money (maybe your parents money) to do something that doesn’t truly benefit you. During my time off I got a job and began the process of becoming a personal trainer. I found things that I enjoy doing so that I would be able to experience something new and different. Everyone has a different way of getting to the same end result. You don’t study the same way as your best friend just as your best friend doesn’t enjoy the same classes you do. It’s not a bad thing to be different! Just do the best that you can do today and tomorrow will take care of itself. No one but you knows what your best is, so be honest with yourself about what your best is.

I used to think that asking for help made me needy and that no one would help if “my problems weren’t real.” I actually said that to my therapist the very first session. (Yes, I have a therapist. Yes, it’s helped tremendously. And YES, I recommend you find one you like if you think you need some extra life navigation tools.) One of the most valuable things I learned about myself (and life, really) is that my feelings just happen. It’s OKAY to be sad. It’s OKAY to be frustrated. It’s even OKAY to be so excited you want to do backflips but settle for a somersault because you’re not a gymnast. But it’s NOT okay to ignore yourself. It’s not okay to run away from your problems by causing yourself more harm than good. Don’t dwell on the negative, but absolutely find some kind of outlet so that you’re not holding onto it. There is not one right way, but there are definitely a couple of wrong ways.

Don’t push the people that care away. Don’t let yourself forget the people who would care if something happened. And whatever you do, don’t forget that you were brought into this world because you are someone else’s reason to believe. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Because, YOU matter.

“You need a job right out of college and you need to know what you’re doing for the rest of your life or you’re a failure.” WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. You are not a failure if you are happy, and you do not, do NOT, DO NOT, need to know what you’re doing for the rest of your life if you are still trying to pull your week together. Have faith that it will all work out, and even if your initial plan doesn’t fall in place like you thought, don’t give up on your dreams. Find a new way to reach them. Or, if you’re anything like me and want to be a lawyer-teacher-trainer-life coach-firefighter-superhero-mom-publicist (or any combination of things at one time), YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND. You don’t have to be one thing for the rest of your life. Do what you love, and if at any point in time you don’t like it anymore- change it! You’re in control of your life. You have the power to change your circumstances.

The past 90 days or so have been a bit of an uphill battle. Some days were way better than others and some all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep until the sun actually means it’s warm outside. Most of those 90 days, I was at home. I took time off so that I could reprioritize my life and remind myself of who I am. After a semester of regaining my strength and sanity, family is still first and always will be. A million thank yous go to everyone who supported me, and to those who continually remind me of the incredible family I have at home, school, and for life. It’s amazing how easily we forget what the important things are, and I truly believe that happiness in the journey- not the destination- is what matters most. I’ve taken a few detours, but nothing will set me back. I’ve made mistakes, but it’s best to say my road to success is under construction the majority of the time.

The bottom line is this: I took time off because it was right for me. What I found was that I’m not the only one who felt the way I did. And even more importantly, I don’t have to follow the path that everyone thinks must be followed. I took time off and I’m finishing early. What others say about you says more about them than it does you. Don’t judge people just because they sin differently than you.

Have you ever thought "Am I the only one who..."? I'm sure you have, and I promise you're not. Live the life you love. I don't take things too seriously, because life is too short to be so obsessed with what everyone thinks of me. I became a writer so I could say what everyone else is thinking. I believe that treating others the way you want to be treated means you will never have to regret a decision you make. I make mistakes, but that's what makes great articles!
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