A year ago, I was at my desk, huddled under a blanket (the heater in my boarding house broke) and looking at colleges on my laptop. I had about 20 different tabs open, with colleges from Hong Kong to England to France. Most of my classmates had either already applied to colleges or knew what they wanted to do instead. Deadlines were looming, I still hadn’t signed up for Common App and my parents were absolutely no help (“Just study in Germany!”). I didn’t want to study in Germany, but I also didn’t know what I wanted to do instead. Going to college seemed like the obvious next step – if everyone else was doing it, why shouldn’t I? The future seemed scary and invincible and up until that moment, I had always thought that I had to go to college, that I had to have everything figured out, and that I had to have my 10 year plan written up already.
Suddenly, it hit me that going to college was a choice. Everyone had always made it seem like a requirement, a checkmark on your life’s to-do list. All of the pressure brought on by applications and deadlines suddenly fell off my shoulders – I felt free. I don’t have to make this decision today, in fact, I am not even qualified to make this decision, I told myself. At that moment, the future stopped seeming scary and was filled with opportunity instead. That’s when I realized that not having a plan was actually a gift, because it meant that I could pursue my interests with reckless abandon.
This gap year has been the best decision of my life so far. I still haven’t decided if I am going to college, but I am sure that I will figure it out. I am no longer scared.
This quick little inbetween post was inspired by a prompt by the Daily Prompt.