The lessons I learned from a working and traveling gap year

March 14, 2017

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I’ve never been one of those people who always knew what they wanted to do with their life. I envied kids in school who dreamed of being policemen or teachers while I sat twiddling my thumbs at the idea of choosing a career.

So when it came to the end of high school, I couldn’t be more ready to take some well-deserved time off.  It took me several years of working, traveling and partying to finally be ready to take up further study, but the lessons I learned in my time off were just as valuable as anything I learned out of a textbook.

An appreciation of money

In my last two years of high school, I worked at a locally owned business for roughly eight hours a week. My pay check would be wasted away on whatever party was on that weekend. I had no bills, car registration, savings, food or rent to pay for, and it’s fair to say I had no appreciation of the value of money.

In my years off from studying, I began to grow a healthy understanding of the dollar value. I was renting, paying bills, paying for food, paying for transport to work and funding my social life. Living out of home and supporting yourself at the ripe age of 19 is a huge learning curve, and it made me grow up from a young age.

My future can wait, but my happiness is important

When I finished school I was feeling pretty unhappy with the direction my life was going, or maybe for a better word, lack of direction. A number of contributing factors made me unhappy with where I was living, which helped push me to move interstate.

In my time away from home I learned just how important self-growth and happiness was, and focusing on my career could wait until I found happiness within. A cliché as it might be, my time between school and uni really developed me as a person, and in turn made me a much happier version of me.

There’s a whole world out there I didn’t know of

When you’re living in the same city your whole life, you become pretty accustomed to that way of life and start to live inside a bubble of security. Traveling, working and immersing yourself into other cultures open up a whole new world. I realised you don’t have to travel overseas to gain these experiences – just putting myself out of my comfort zone in a different state and starting fresh opened me up to more possibilities.

I valued my education when I got it

By the time I made it to university I had a thirst for knowledge I hadn’t known before. I‘d had enough time off from study that I was eager to learn again, I was present in class, and wanting to make the most out of all my subjects.

And finally, what I actually wanted to do

I remember sitting on Cable Beach in Broome my first day there, getting interviewed by a fresh-faced journalist for the local news. Afterward she sat down and we had a convocation about her career and I remember deciding then and there that’s what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I exposed myself to different things, different places and different ideas that the idea of journalism even came up.

Some people are lucky to grow up with a clear idea of what they want their future to look like but for others, the future is a little cloudier. For me, taking some time to focus on myself and explore different things taught me some valuable life lessons and eventually prepared me for uni.

 

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