Olivia's Gap Year Diary – Why I Decided To Take a Gap Year

Olivia Ross


From a young age we have a number of expectations thrust upon us, the most daunting being get good grades, and in my case good enough to go to a Russell Group university – I know, bit specific. So what do you do when going to university isn't something you don't necessarily find appealing? When the thought of making such a life-changing decision makes you want to curl up and cry? My first answer to these questions was simple: I'll take a gap year. But what do you do when this decision starts to go sour too?

Throughout my life, I have always wanted to travel, specifically to an area densely populated by varying kinds of animals. However, this long lasting dream seemed to drown beneath the constant anxious questions about my future, which were continually being fired towards me. So I forgot about it. Instead going along with everyone else, turning into a sheep, as I too looked at possible universities, went to open days and filled in my UCAS application. Amidst all of the pessimistic thoughts, I forgot to ask for the most important opinion; my own. I completely disregarded what I truly wanted – instead going for the typical choice that the rest of my friends were doing and completely losing myself in the process.

After many nights worrying about what I should do, then proceeding to stress about the amount of worrying I was actually doing, I decided to ask for help. Now I took my overly anxious self to the school's connexions officer, but this is only one of a myriad of options that are available to us panicky teens. With the help of said miracle worker, I was able to brush away those thoughts of self doubt, exiling them from my mind, allowing me to take pride in my not so common decision of a gap year, instead of shying away behind others and their so called 'normal' route on the highway of our future lives.

So here I am today, writing this and finally feeling confident (in terms of my gap year, at least). Using many resources and wasting many possible revision hours, I have set my heart on a project in Thailand working at a wildlife rescue centre and spending two weeks helping with elephants and then two weeks with the centre's other inhabitants.

Now I know that this programme won't end with me knowing every detail of what I want to do with my life as no matter how amazing the experience will be, it won't give me the miracle cure to my mind's indecisiveness.

However, I hope to gain many things from it:

  1. Being in Thailand, far away from friends and family, surrounded by bugs and having to get up at 6.30am everyday – has to allow for strong bonds to be created, right?
  2. Actually touching an elephant! What sort of animal loving vegetarian wouldn't want to do that?
  3. Independence, this is something I'm pretty sure I'll need for university – so what better way to achieve it than by heading out to Thailand by myself? Ultimately isolating myself from those I usually depend on.
  4. As a strange child who saw Dian Fossey (Gorilla's in the mist) as her hero, I hope to feel that I have achieved something somewhat similar to what she did, no matter how minuscule in comparison.

My advice to you, as you sit there, at the computer screen completely befuddled as to what you want to do with the rest of your life, in a situation that I myself and millions of others were once in...RELAX. I know it is terrifying to be clueless about your future, especially when it seems as though everyone around you has a chart of how their lives are going to pan out. But sometimes, it is best to be slightly clueless. Yes, having a brief layout can be helpful. But we are never going to get exactly what we want from life; there will always be a wrong turn. So yeah, feel free to heavily plan out everything but at the end of the day if you don't have every little detail planned out, don't worry, not many of us do.