The stereotype of graduating college in 4 years has become a total cliché. For generations, we have shared the mindset that we must follow in the footsteps of or elders. Although there is nothing wrong with having the same dreams as those around you, when will you take the time to step back and wonder, “is this really what I want?"
The idea of taking a break, or as I would like to call it, the “semester gap," is an idea that I have been trained to avoid. I don’t blame my parents for thinking this way, but I wish this belief was never ingrained in me. Taking time off from from school for one semester creates a taboo amongst your friends and family. The idea of students taking a semester off has turned into a discussion with no final answer. Personally, I can say that I was one of those few students who believed that taking a semester off was the most selfish, immature decision that anyone could make. However, that all changed when my life took a toll on me, and I realized I needed a break!
I had hit the boiling point- that scary point you reach when all the stress you have been holding in for days, months, or even years finally takes you by surprise and lets you feel a mix of overwhelming emotions. I can truly say that I felt it all! I wanted to quit. I wanted to just throw everything under the bus and call it a day. Yet, deep down I knew that was not what I wanted to do. I cried for hours, feeling like a complete failure. After 2 boxes of kleenex, countless thoughts, and a playlist filled with depressing songs, I thought to myself, what am I doing? What am I really crying about? Am I stressed with all the paperwork given to me? Am I anxious that the semester is coming to an end and I haven’t paid my tuition? Maybe it had been way to long since I got some personal time. Whatever the reason was, I was a complete mess… and that’s when it hit me- it was time to do something to get myself back on my feet.
This decision may not be for everyone. In my case, it enriched my persona in so many ways. For starters, it gave me time to reflect on myself and set my priorities straight. I had been ignoring my stress for so long that I was forgetting who I was as a person, but once you hit adulthood, everything changes. You need to learn to how to be independent. It’s overwhelming and sometimes you need to sit down and organize yourself both physically and mentally. Living in New York City is no joke. You must learn to survive in a city that is always moving with no time to press the pause button, even when you feel the need too.
That’s where another perk of taking a semester break kicks in- the financial aspect of it all. College is no glory when it comes to being financially stable, especially in New York City. Many times, students take breaks because they can’t afford college. Expenses such as books, tuition, transportation, and food all have a huge impact on the financial stability of many college students. A break can help bring you back to your financial stability, as you can get a part time job and you can even take the time to organize yourself and save up for the following semester. Whatever the case may be, there is nothing wrong with admitting that you are a bit overwhelmed financially.
The most important perk was discovering who I really was as a person. I took time to ask myself what I wanted to do in my life and why I wanted to pursue this career. I realized that I had been doing so much for myself, and that I should not see that as stress; instead, I should see it a motivator to get me to where I want to go in the near future. I also discovered so many things about life in general. For example, I must love my career because it’s something I am doing for myself and no one else. I had been working hard to reach a point in life where I would be the proudest, but in the process, I had forgotten these beautiful thoughts that had once pushed me to strive for more. Now, after taking that semester gap, I am taking my life back. I can honestly say that I have found myself again. I am a full time student with many goals in mind. I won’t lie, I do have my moments of stress here and there, but they are not to the point of quitting. Taking a semester break has its perks, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of having the need to do it once in your life. Everyone is different, and for a variety of reasons, you might consider making this decision. It might not be for everyone, but there shouldn’t be any embarrassment when it comes to taking a semester gap.