It’s hard to believe that eight months have come and gone so quickly. I know it’s annoyingly cliche to say, but time seems to move at an alarmingly quicker rate these days that barely gives one the ability to plan for the future let alone glance at the past. With the first day of classes having begun this past Monday, I thought I would share my unfiltered thoughts about my time away from school and whether my decision was right, wrong, or somewhere in between.
There’s no denying that I’m an impatient person, but sometimes it can get the best of me. For example, last Saturday I purchased a chair after moving into my new space for college that acquired some required assembly. After dumping all the parts out onto the ground, I decided to push the directions to the corner of the room believing that I could put together the chair on my own. The first five minutes when smoothly – screw on the legs, slip the cloth over the metal fitting, etc. – but there came a point when I realized I actually didn’t know what I was doing and had to start over with the directions in hand. Had I accepted that I needed direction in the beginning, I would have probably saved myself some time – and headache – throughout the process.
Like my experience with the chair, there were times last semester when I thought college was a lot like those directions. I thought I didn’t “need” them and that I could learn as I went figuring things out on my own. I’m not saying I thought college was pointless, but more that I was simply impatient at the rate I was moving. I wanted things to be done now and instead of following the lead of someone who knew what they were talking about (like a professor…or booklet of directions), I thought I could do better using my own instinct.
While there were many things that influenced my decision for a gap semester, I did go into it thinking that it would allow me to get where I wanted to be since time was now in abundance. While the past few months have certainly had their successes, they’ve also had their fair share of failures. Many – if not all – of these failures showed me that I was moving through things too quickly. Like the chair, I wanted to move forward at an unrealistic rate skipping the beginning, fast-forwarded through the middle, and arriving at the finish line.
I definitely didn’t get to where I wanted to be while away from school, but where I wanted to be was somewhere in between impossible and unrealistic. Recognizing your mistakes – especially when they’re avoidable – can be difficult, but there’s always something to learn from them. With my gap semester now in the past, I see that there’s a pretty wide expanse of ground to be covered before reaching the finish line. While that expanse will have its fair share of directional booklets that I will want to skip past or slide into the corner, “skipping” is no longer an option.
Now back on campus, I have a better appreciation for what’s in front of me. I may not like some my professors or disagree with how certain things are done, but it’s my responsibility to suck it up and make the best of it. I feel that being away from college gave me a better appreciation for my education that I seemed to have taken for granted.
Looking back, taking a leave of absence from GWU was easily one the best decisions I’ve made in 2014. From figuring out if I wanted to pursue a transfer to sharing my personal story to simply clearing my mind and getting back onto solid footing, I wouldn’t think twice of doing it again. While I know my parents were never fully behind the idea worrying that I wouldn’t go back or that it would put me behind, I knew it was good for me.
If someone would have told me that I would take a semester off in college, I would have probably told them they were insane. Pursuing this decision was hard to admit to myself, but I’m glad I had enough sense to come to terms with it. Taking a gap semester isn’t for everyone, but it’s also not something that should be looked down upon. While hitting the stop button does have its consequences, it’s six months out of one’s entire life that could completely alter their future. I have no idea how it’s altered my future, but I do know that I’m in a good place ready to take on the responsibilities I’ve signed up for. I’ll certainly be missing home having grown quite comfortable there over the past eight months, but all good things must come to an end. For now, I’m excited to be back in DC ready to continue moving forward, but at a more realistic pace. Here’s to making it to May without any skips.