Taking a year out of uni: it doesn’t mean failure

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

What does this even mean? Going where? Well, in my case, it’s going away from uni for a bit, taking some time out and working on getting myself better. Because I AM tough, I AM determined, and I want to do this right.

Taking a year out from your studies is a frightening prospect. The course which you’ve worked so hard to get into and the friends you’ve managed to convince to put up with you and the place you now see as home all seem to be dangling from a thread thinner than a racing greyhound, and this break would just be further gnawing away at that. However, isn’t it possible that attempting to stay on the course could eat away at your connection to these things even quicker?

There are a number of reasons a person might decide to take a year out from their studies: financial struggles; family issues; mental illness; physical illness; uncertainty about the course.

And all of these are valid. That isn’t to say that if you find yourself falling under one of these categories that you must suspend your studies immediately, nor is this a definitive list of why you might need to. Everyone copes in different ways.

Taking a year out of uni can be scary. Fear of looking like a failure, having to integrate with the year below, occupying yourself for a year – the worries circle my brain like Mo Farah running rings around a track. Weighing up the pros and cons seems useless as each time there is no clear answer, the waters are murky and with my black and white thinking I become frustrated at the lack of a clear pathway. Furthermore, as many people as I go to for advice, nobody tells me what I want to hear, probably because I don’t know what that is yet.

For me, it came down to my happiness. I love my course, and I adore my friends, I even like studying (retrospectively only). And while I’m not well enough to balance all of these things, the enjoyment spills out as quickly as Foo Fighters fans from a Justin Bieber concert. In order to protect my already fragile sanity, and make sure I actually pass, I’m taking this year to focus on me. That doesn’t make me selfish, or lazy or stupid. There are so many pros to taking 12 months out too – I can figure out what I really want, earn some money, travel and obviously get my health back on track. You’d be surprised how many people regret not taking a gap year whilst at uni.

There’s so much you can do with one year away, whether that’s travelling the world, working for the dollar, or just resting your brain at home with your family; we should lift any expectations from ourselves as they just set us up for disappointment.

Yes, I’m scared. I might lose friends, I could lose money, but maybe I’ll return to university as a better version of me. And maybe things will be OK.
Taking a year out of uni does not mean failure. Don’t be scared to face what lies ahead after a year out.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going wherever they damn well want to go.

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