How to Decide: Go to Uni, Start a Career or take a Gap Year
Are you currently in a position where you are not sure which direction to take in life? Possibly you are thinking about applying for university, interested in starting a job or you just like the idea of spending time away and traveling. Most people say it’s good to explore the world when young, but this can be a difficult decision to make and there are lots of things you will need to think about. One of our featured travel writers Francesca Wade gives us her thoughts and weighs up the decision you can make to either start studying by going to university, starting a career or to just take time and go traveling and see the world.
People always say write about what you know. I’ve been on this earth 20 years. Some people may say that’s a long time, others will say I’ve only just started. Personally, I’d say that I’m somewhere in-between. Age is a strange concept. A year is split into months, which are split into weeks, which are split into days and so on. All these concepts of time are based on what humans, a long time ago, decided would be a good measurement of life passing by.
Age is a way of telling someone how long you, your physical body, has been on this earth. But age varies. Different cultures depict age as many different things. The runic calendar, for example, constructs a year in a totally different way to the western world, based on the 19-year Metonic moon cycle. Dog years, as another example, function completely differently. This leads me to question the concept of time itself.
But time is a topic I know a lot about. I know that we, as humans, don’t have a lot of it. I know that we waste it. Time seems to slow when we’re bored and quicken when we’re active. Einstein tried to formulate a theory to answer this conundrum, but personally I don’t care. All I know is that we have time in our lives and we need to use it. Not simply coast through this life doing what we are expected to do. I want to use my time to get absolutely everything I can out of life. How am I going to do that? By embracing every opportunity that comes my way.
Travelling has broadened my outlook on time. I’ve been told that I’m delaying the inevitable; that there’s only so much travelling I can do before I need to make a life for yourself. Many argue that your 20s should be a time for going to college, graduating then starting on a career path leading you to buying a house and creating roots. Guess what? I don’t want roots yet! I want to spread my wings and fly. There is so much out there that has yet to be discovered, seen, experienced. There are new places, old places, history to learn and history to be made. How can you learn any of that when you’re sat behind a desk in an office or scrimping and saving just to put down that housing deposit?
How about that tough decision: plan a gap year or starting college – many argue that it’s not worth the loss of structure from your routine. I found it was the best thing I did. I learnt so much about life, and myself, and money management, and what I really wanted. It gave me a million life skills that without I would have floundered at university. I understood that it was OK if I felt like staying in instead of going out for the billionth time that week! I understood that actually, I was there to get a degree. I believe a lot of that knowledge came from having to listen to myself and my needs alone for the best part of a year.
“Your biological clock is ticking” is a phrase that gets said to women frequently. No one ever asks about your emotional clock. Are you ready to reduce your world to work and family and friends but never leave your little patch of earth except for a weeklong holiday once a year? BORING!
Life should be about adventure. I said I was 20 earlier – how many 20 year olds can say they’ve dived in Australia, skied in Canada, been in a plane crash only to be in a car crash a few weeks later, experienced floods and tsunamis and hurricanes all in one trip, gone to every continent bar Antarctica (I’m working on it!), have best friends scattered on each of those continents and still need more, want more? I guess that’s the gluttony of Generation Y; I want to see it, feel it, live it all. The idea of society telling you what is acceptable to be doing with your life at a certain time-point is laughable. It’s my life. It’s my time on this planet. I will do with it as I please.
Time is short. Anyone who’s lost anyone knows that. But time is also precious. You have got to make the most of it. You’ve got to use that time you’re given wisely. So if, like me, you’re not ready to plan for the future, you’re not ready to get that house with the white picket fence, you want to try durians in Singapore or bakmie in Indonesia and experience walking bare foot through New York City, watch sunrises over wondrously white beaches in Thailand, do it. Live it. Take every opportunity and enjoy it. Ignore the naysayers and the haters. Guess what? They’re jealous you have the balls to do it.
What are you waiting for? Go book your flights.
By Francesca Wade