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Tessa Pesicka / Her Campus
Her20s

Becoming a Gap Year Girl

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As my days as an undergraduate student comes to an end, I can confidently admit that I’m unsure about my post-graduation plans. My parents want me in medical school by the time I graduate. My advisors and mentors want me to apply for the upcoming medical school cycle. However, what do I want? Everyone around me seems sure about their post-graduate plans, which initially made me feel behind. Being 22 seems so old, yet when I look in the mirror I look so young. I remember my younger self so eager to put on her big girl pants and start her dream career. My present self is drafting a Plus/Delta chart weighing the pros and cons of going straight to medical school versus taking time to myself. Although outside pressure initially persuaded me to follow the guidelines my family, mentors and advisors drafted, my Plus/Delta chart concluded that I was not ready.

I don’t feel mentally ready. Since Summer 2018, I’ve been taking classes back-to-back.

I feel burnt out and tired.

I’m only 22 years old; I still have many adventures ahead of me.

Most importantly, I haven’t found my zen.

I asked myself, “What is the rush because realistically, medical school isn’t going anywhere?”

I can technically apply anytime, whether now, next year or in two years.

However, will I have time to truly find myself while applying to medical school and spending long hours in study halls and local hospitals once admitted?

I’m not sure.

I’m also not confident in helping others when I’m entirely not in the space to do so.

By taking a gap year, I hope to find myself while traveling and deepening my relationship with friends and family through reflection. I’ve been advocating for social justice, health equity and developing myself to become a strong candidate for medical school throughout my undergraduate career. However, while advocating for various student populations and causes, I lost sight of my own need for social and emotional growth.

Many other undergraduate students most likely resonate with this.

With entering the big world comes vast responsibilities. I don’t feel ready to partake in these responsibilities. As Peter Pan sings gracefully, “I won’t grow up!” I don’t want to embark on being in the big world just yet, and that’s okay.

I want to travel and explore my hobbies, such as writing, outdoor adventures and fashion. During my gap year, I want to be the main character of my story again. I’ve been in the passenger seat for too long. I want to take the wheel and drive to whatever destination interests me. During my gap year, I’m open to expecting the unexpected. Maybe while traveling across the world, I might find the love of my life. However, after taking a gap year, I know I will become a stronger version of myself. I will gain independence and learn the importance of self-care. I learned within my decision that you can still understand what the world offers despite not being in school. Taking a year off can allow me to learn different cultures, languages, social interactions and, most importantly, I can learn more about myself through exploring new interests.

I can even incorporate my new experiences in making me a competent doctor. You can do the same with any career you plan to pursue as well. The possibilities are endless!

With outside, cultural and family pressure, it may be hard to decide whats best for you when taking a year to yourself. Trust me, making this decision myself was extremely difficult. However, coming to terms with taking a gap year, I believe this is the best decision. During this chapter of my life, I realized I wanted to discover who I am. Furthermore, I realized everyone is different, and we all have a unique story thats still developing as we grow. By taking a Gap Year, I hope to find my zen. I realize I am only 22 and have my whole life ahead of me. What’s the rush?

There isn’t any.

There’s no rush when it comes to living life to its fullest.

Your life is at your own pace. Take your time to learn who you are as an individual. Whether or not this article inspires you to take a gap year, trust your gut instinct and do what’s best for you and only you.

You only live once. Life is too short to live with regrets.

Take your time.

Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Eliana is a senior at the University of Central Florida pursuing a dual degree in Sociology, Interdisciplinary Studies, and a minor in Human Services on a Pre-Medical track. Eliana's hobbies include shopping, working out, and anything writing-related.
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