I don’t know when the preconceived concept of college took over my thoughts, actions, mind, and life, but it did.

Doing 3 sports freshman and sophomore year of high school?

That’ll look great on a college resume!

Getting a job junior year?

College counselors will love your work ethic!

Graduating a semester early and volunteering in Peru for three months?

That will make you stand and receive more scholarships!

College. College. College. Yes, in our current society, getting a university degree is vital for many. It opens doors and teaches skills needed to obtain numerous jobs. It helps bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. So naturally, I worked my ass off for four years to make it to the finish line: the perfect college acceptance letter lined in imaginary gold scholarship money and bursting with promises of happiness and success. Yet, I realized something along the way my senior year. After 11 school applications, endless college mail, scholarship congratulations, and acceptance letters, I was still unhappy. Every time I opened the countless envelopes I received, continually filled with good news, I never felt that promise of happiness and success. I felt, in some ways, bitter. The money was never enough. Some schools would cost nearly $200,000 to attend for 4 years. So, when I was blessed with $75,000 from, it still felt like nothing compared to the glooming overhanging price-tag. Acceptance letters were never exciting, they were expected. I was a good student, graduating with a 4.1 weighted GPA that I despised. I always received acceptance letters followed by the thoughts “of course. I should be accepted. I wrote papers instead of helping decorate the Christmas tree. Went to bed at 2 a.m. instead of watching a movie with my brother. I took AP classes galore instead of going to lacrosse games. So yah, the least you can give me is an acceptance letter (and some money would be nice too)”. As April was coming to a close and the May 1st decision day creeped closer, I knew from the bottom of my heart that something was wrong. I was not supposed to feel this way. I was supposed to be excited about a degree, hopeful that I’ll find a way to pay for it, ready to pursue a career, enthusiastic about a new start. Yet, anxiety, bitterness, unhappiness, and stress met me in the place where joy was supposed to be.  It took a night at a friend’s party for me to finally say (with the help of some liquid luck) that I was not going to college next year. I embraced one of my best friends and told her I was ready to take the leap of faith together, and in that moment, slightly teary-eyed, we hugged each other and for the first time said out loud: “gap year.”

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