A gap year is not a pleasant thought, by any means. It can overwhelm a person with idleness. At the same time, your more-successful or better-placed peers, your parents, relatives may mock you for your choice or your bad luck.
But if you don’t wish to spend your time mourning about your decision or bad luck, a gap year may prove to be a boon in disguise. You can pick up a new hobby or engage anew with a hobby you had left years ago, learn a new skill, read more books, begin writing… The possibilities are endless!
When you are finally convinced that it will be a gap year, it will hit you hard. At least, in my case, it did hit me hard. Never before had I been idle for this long a time. Gradually, the reality settles in. In the first few weeks or even months, you will probably be extremely lazy. You may wake up only to binge-watch TV series and movies, and then go back to sleep again. You may also question your decisions. Then, as the months pass by, you begin to realise that now, you have the time to do the things that you have always procrastinated about doing.
No – I didn’t go for any backpacking trip. Neither did I discover myself anew in some mountain, jungle or ashram. Instead, I chose to engage myself with those things I had always wanted to learn – the long-lost childhood desires. This is how I found the piano. All of a sudden, the childhood desire of learning to play the piano materialised. So I began learning the piano. Gradually, the mysterious signs on the music-sheet began to form melodious music. I learnt the mystery of the black and white keys. And not long afterwards, I could play music on the piano.
I reminisced about my childhood knack for sketching and painting. I had shunned the canvas and the paint since I had passed out of school. I bought a drawing book and began sketching. Gradually, the pages started to fill up with sketches and paintings of people and scenes. Soon, my drawing book was full – and I wanted to do more.
I also discovered the joy of writing – I wrote on things which seemed important to me. I wrote to challenge my perceptions. Now, I have come to believe that no matter how small my readership is, my words still matter. I picked up the long-forsaken habit of reading. I began to read the books which had been gathering dust for a long time now – books I had bought but never got to reading them.
But, things don’t always go smoothly. You are often haunted by your future prospects – and by your neighbor aunty’s enquiries into what you are doing presently. And every time, your meek reply is – “Nothing. I’m doing nothing presently.” Besides, your relatives may also pester you by asking what you are doing – and again, you have to reply, “Nothing. I’m doing nothing presently.” The worst bit about all this is when your parents express their disappointment while replying to others’ queries about you. Here too, every time, they have to reply, “Nothing. She’s doing nothing presently.”
Sometimes you question your own decisions – or maybe, your failures. Were you right to not actively pursue anything during this time. Will you regret missing a year of your academic life or your professional career in the future? Or are you probably already regretting it?
Rather than obsessing about wrong decisions and lost time, I chose to engage myself with activities. I am not sure what my future prospects are, but I’m sure to have used at least a part of my gap year productively. I got plenty of time to idle, but also lots of time to think about myself – my real interests, and to question whether the direction I’m headed towards is actually worth it all.