The Price of a Gap Year

On a number of occasions in the past I have posted about how the gap year I took between summer 2003 and September 2004 was a waste of time. In the past few days I have once more been haunted by these thoughts and would love to finally put them to bed.

Unfortunately, this isn’t going to happen any time soon. I really wish I could take my own advice: that what’s done is done, and the past is now irrelevant. But I just can’t believe how badly it’s worked out for me.

I would have a degree by now. And, all other things being equal, I would have been half way through my PGCE course. Even better, I have just discovered that I would have been getting a £6,000 grant, which is being reduced to £4,000 for when I start this September. Though I did work during my gap year, and earned more than £2,000, the discovery of this news would have softened the blow if I had went straight to Uni.

And the annoying thing is that I only chose to do a gap year in the first place because I didn’t want to go to university anyway. I felt like I was being forced into it and so my reaction was to tick the “defer entry” box on the UCAS form. Everyone accepted that was a fairly normal thing to do, being a student we like our gap years. But I picked it because my plan was to get a real job during the year and start life as normal. That would mean I’d have an excuse not to go to university in the end.

But why? Why oh why did I think this? The teachers were telling me it was really important to go. My family didn’t really say anything either way. No one in my family has ever been to university. My mum and dad were just letting me make the decision. They didn’t offer any enouragement either way because they were just as ambivalent about the whole thing as I was. I think that was important. By them not pushing me to go, I had no extra motivation. The gap year sounded good. I really don’t know why I didn’t want to go. I guess it was fear of the unknown, and not being a natural risk taker it seemed such a scary thing to do.

My normal answer is that the gap year forced me to go to university because it showed me what life was going to be like if I didn’t go. This is my only defence. It’s fairly satisfactory, but it’s unconvincing. If only I’d been persuaded earlier I would have just gone and not needed it to be demonstrated in front of my eyes. I can be such a doubting person. I wait for things to happen to me before taking action.

But it just ruined everything. The delay to my life – a life that is incredibly short in the first place – has been interminably frustrating and one that I will continue to live with until I get going. I’m so eager to get all this over and done with. I know it will fly by just like every other minute of my life, but it’s still 18 months away. And that’s assuming I don’t get on the PGCE course and decide it’s not for me. And even assuming I graduate with a 2:1. Which is not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination. I have to keep pushing.

This whole thing is depressing me immeasurably. This is what happens when I’m left at home, waiting to go back to Hull to carry on with my studies. I end up thinking too much. And I hate listening to my brain churning over all this endlessly. And yet I hate sitting here wishing my life away so I can get back to work. I enjoy my time here. I don’t want to go back. But I know I have to.

I’ll be glad when I only live in one location again. I hate having two “homes”. It makes me feel like I live a divided existence.

6 months to go.