Ok, so you're thinking about taking a gap year. But where to go from there? Here are some starting themes and idea for 18 year olds, recent high school graduates, those thinking about taking a break from college:
Invest in your potential
Gap time is a great time to learn crucial life skills, like how to meditate, balance your budget, do your taxes, cook your own food, read maps, set goals and achieve them, and follow your curiosity. Some ways you can do that:
- Get a sweet internship just right for you. Sites like Glassdoor and Idealist are perfect places to start.
- Take a class online in a skill you want to develop. You can find classes in virtually any topic on sites like EdX and Udemy.
- Check our your local community college for affordable opportunities of study for credit.
- Read, read, read! Any and everything you can. Find your local public library or a book club nearby.
Plan a trip
There have never been more resources widely available for a young person planning a trip abroad! Let your imagination wander. Here are some sites to get your started:
Let those who know best guide you
If you're thinking about signing up for a facilitated experience on your gap year—a structured gap year program or some other level of organization—it can be hard to figure out where to start. Fortunately the Gap Year Association is here to help make sure gap year programs are safe and operating with a high level of quality and integrity. Two pages of theirs that you might find particularly useful:
Above all: Follow your curiosity
If you ask us, the first thing you ought to be asking yourself is: What am I curious about? This seemingly simple question might very well hold the truth you need to bring your ideas down to the physical plane, and you might find that the answer doesn't reveal itself to you right away.
If you've been a teenager in the US in recent years, you may have heard nags to find and follow your *passion*. But have you ever felt the pressure of not knowing just what your passion is? What if what you think is your passion leads you astray, fails you, or you lose interest? Writer, journalist and creativity guru Elizabeth Gilbert puts it this way:
"I think curiosity is our friend that teaches us how to become ourselves. And it's a very gentle friend, and a very forgiving friend, and a very constant one. Passion is not so constant, not so gentle, not so forgiving, and sometimes not so available....Sometimes following your curiosity will lead you to your passion. Sometimes it won't, and then guess what? That's still totally fine. You've lived a life following your curiosity. You've created a life that is a very interesting thing, different from anybody else's. And your life itself then becomes the work of art, not so much contingent upon what you produced, but about a certain spirit of being that I think is a lot more interesting and also a lot more sustainable." -Elizabeth Gilbert, from OnBeing interview with Krista Tippett, July 7, 2016
It can be hard to decide how to spend our time, even if we consider ourselves very fortunate for having so many choices. Hopefully these few words will help you get started as you begin the precious gift of dreaming up your future!