A ‘gap’ was good for me

Carolyn Aldis
Carolyn Aldis
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So, last September, I took a “gap” year, to give myself a bit of time and space to work out what I want to do with my life. This may seem unusual, given that I am 41, but I guess I must be a slow developer and it has taken all this time for me to be able to stop and work out what career I should do and to sort my head out.

I know how fortunate I am to have been able to do this….so many of my friends have said how much they would love to stop working and do something more worthwhile with their lives, but financially, it’s impossible.

Initially, it was great having free time to concentrate on my writing…I’m in the middle of writing a novel as well as blogging. But whoever said “If you want something done, ask a busy person” was so right, because I found that no matter how much free time I had, I seemed to run out of day; weeks passed where I wasn’t achieving very much at all.

I had a couple of issues that were flagged up pretty quickly, one being that I wasn’t very disciplined. So, I started to write a weekly plan of what I needed to do and stuck to it…it may sound strange to those that have it all together and are organised, but for me it was a big deal.

I also struggled with apathy…there was so much to do, I didn’t know where to start and so I didn’t; I would go shopping instead or sit and read a book. Again, I had to make myself get on with it until it became a habit, a routine that worked. Finally I was happy, my family were happy, even my dog was happy that she was getting her walk consistently…everyone felt secure once there was structure.

Because I was now feeling empowered, I thought about what I would do in September and the idea of doing a degree came up. Now, I didn’t really enjoy school and left with very few qualifications and so for me to even consider going to college was a big step. I found a couple of courses that interested me and, to my delight, got offered a place on a foundation degree course in Drama, my absolute passion.

Still riding high on this achievement, I overcame my fear of screwing up important stuff online by tackling my online tax return, something that has been known to make grown men weep. I also applied for my passport, a student loan and booked flights and a hotel in Spain, without crying or swearing at the screen.

Life is better when we are doing what we feel is right for us to do, whatever that dream job may be. Stopping and taking a “gap” to think about your plans, whether that’s a year, a month or a few days is worth doing in the long run. It’s never too late to change, to overcome things that hold you back and do what you really want to do with your life.