You finished school and you apparently have three options:
- Gap year
I remember going to this student adviser compulsory session just before I finished school and that’s how it was laid out to me. I wasn’t really taken by those options because; I wanted to do them all, all at once and for indefinite amounts of time. It all felt too clean cut and none totally right.
So I kind of did do them all at once (ish). I went off travelling round Asia for 10 weeks with a friend, Gap months rather than gap year. Travels check. I started my own little business (doing something I hated, but it made me money and fit perfectly with going to University). Money making check. I got into Kings College in London doing the subject I liked best at school, Geography!!! Academic future on track!!!
It lasted 5 months!!! As much as I had tried to do it all, I had actually done a half assed attempt of it all. Worst of all I was stagnant!!!
I was at Uni only waiting for the third year to do a term abroad and there was a 2 weeks field trip to Kerala which was in fact a very large part of my decision to do that course.
It was silly to me, to be doing it such the wrong way round. I felt I had been given a template and I was trying to crush my desires, squish my wants, tame my ambitions lower my expectations to fit into this way. And who for?
Well I went to Kenya in the first Christmas holiday. I decided 1 month before, to go on my own and off I went for 2 months.
I never went back to University.
I had a brain wave that I could do it all. Really do it all, I wiped clean the template and started putting together what really mattered to me.
First I realised I liked to learn, like really liked it!!! But my learning happened out in the world. It was always backed up by books and scores of research but it did not happen for me in University lectures or in lovely buildings in London.
I realised learning did not have to be at a University. Further to that, getting a degree didn’t have to be at a university either. The wonders of the internet meant it could be anywhere (with an internet connection). Where was this option at my career advisor talk????
Coming back to London I realised I felt trapped by the 3 year commitment to one place (with my long awaited 2 weeks away in Kerala) and was not really living. What was I deferring life for?
I had decided that traveling was immature, it was something you do when you are 18 for a year and then (I shudder when I think it) but go ‘Back to the REAL world’.
I was telling myself that I was wrong to want to explore!!!!
NO it was so right, I wanted to see the world and learn all I could whilst doing it. I wanted to have my time to explore my interests, write my own schedules, work, learn, explore all at once (I know if you’re thinking about the ‘real world’ again, so did I. Thoughts like jobs aren’t like that, and what about getting a real job, what will people think?. Thankfully there is a wealth of people out their living in the real world getting on just fine living for the moment doing what works for them; it gave me the confidence to take the first step)
I had ideas, I was bursting with them, I wanted to start up businesses and take on challenges and do all those things that can be seen as young, naive and irresponsible.
But those are the qualities people lose; it’s that youth that turns into drudgery, the naivety that turns into fear and that irresponsibility that turns into burdens. Why was I hiding from my young, naive, irresponsibility??
Fear is only ever a misunderstanding with the unknown. Things don’t get less scary its just you start understanding the unknown a little better. Choosing your unknown works so much better than trying to squish yourself through a minefield of pre-made choices.
Its incredible just what is possible when you decide you are going to do what works for you.
- I decided to look up online degrees- LSE where starting an International Development degree (just what I had decided I actually wanted to study) long distance via internet correspondence.
- My boyfriend decided he wanted to travel too (Yay, glad I found an amazing partner in crime)
- We went to France, Belgium, Caribbean, Hungary, Kenya and Ireland (and all in what used to be ‘term time’)
- We got rid of all the stuff we had accumulated (incredible how much money you can make when you get rid of all the stuff you no longer need)
- We stopped spending on the stuff that didn’t matter to us any more, my shopping ‘addiction’ seemed to be fuelled by a need to fit in, what I was up to now I didn’t need new clothes or shoes. We started using a mobile app to save us money and stil communicate with family and business use in the UK called: NobelApp. It was super cheap and easy to use.
- Learn Swahili- I have always thought I could not learn languages, amazing what you can achieve when you want to
- We decided to stop living for the future and do what is right in front of us now
- We figured money was a bit of a boundary so let’s go away to save some cash
- We wrote business plans, and are starting businesses that mean something to us
- We researched what we needed to start a business, including the best software available. We couldn’t afford it all, but we knew we needed an email service provider to get started so we compared Mailgun vs Sendgrid and chose the best for us.
- We looked to move to Tanzania but were unable to find a job so are now spending a year in Singapore where my boyfriend has a good job to save some cash
- We are going to travel Asia
- But most importantly we have given ourselves this year or so, to become location independent – a life where we are bound by location does not work for us.
When you are presented with option 1, 2 and 3 there is always a 4, 5, and 6 as well as a 1+2 and a 3+6 and every other combination under the sun.
Write a list of all you want to do. Take out all the ORs and put in ANDs. Then go about making it happen.
It’s not going to be easy, it may not be obvious or it could be a walk in the park. Chances are the biggest hold back will be your own doubt, coupled with that of those around you (if you chose to listen to them). But doubt has nothing to do with whether it is possible or not!!! Things can be possible weather you believe it or not.
My degree is still hours of work, I have to work hard to earn money, I live in places I wouldn’t have usually considered but I am excited by my life. It works for me, I am on a road and I am comfortable on it. I am no longer trying to change me to fit something else, but going with the strengths and passions I have.
So you want to know your choice after you finish school!! They are endless. One way is not better than the other but there are so many ways to peel an orange, just pick one!!!!
Check out this list of ideas of what to do once you finish school and how to make travel last longer
- Online degrees– The best programmes I know of are the ones run by University of London (UoL). LSE, Berbeck, Royal Holloway and more run their degree courses through UoL. Undergraduate to Masters and diplomas. They are reasonably priced, have a great support system, able to sit exams all over the world, well accredited. It is a really great option for those who want to get a degree but either have other ambitions or different circumstances.
- Get an internship- It does not have to be a conventional internship.
- Travel- 1 month, 1 year, indefinitely!!!!!!
- Relocate- Move away. Most of the choices available to you at home are usually available most other places in the world.
- Experiment- have a set amount of time to explore what makes you tick. Take a year or two to do internships and odd jobs. Learn what’s going to make you tick in life. Is it indoors or out? Practical, Intellectual? Do you find your happiness in what job you do or in the people you are doing it with? Is something a hobby or career? What’s the rush? We have one life why not explore it. 3 months on pig farm in rural England and 3 months shadowing a top fashion designer in The Middle East followed by a stint as a door to door sales man at home, who takes an offer to teach swimming lessons in Slovenia. You might not want to travel, so just explore what’s on offer in your/ a local area. Take the time to experiment, there is no race.