When I graduated high school, I was six months younger, my hair was five inches shorter, it was about 30 degrees warmer outside, and Taylor Swift hadn’t rerecorded “Red” yet. Thinking about these big picture items, it feels like the world has moved on without me. My friends from high school are almost done with first semester of senior year, I have friends enjoying their new lives in college, but I am still where I was six months ago.
Upon introspection, I realize much more has changed than I first realized. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with people of different ages, backgrounds, and beliefs during my gap year, and I can feel my confidence when making small talk and opening up to new people. While I wasn’t lonely in high school, trying to make new friends wasn’t something I was eager to do. Far too concerned about what other people thought of me, I didn’t branch out of my circle too often. Now, I’m eager to connect with others and make them feel cared for, even just for a moment in our conversation.
I’ve changed intended areas of study this year, as well. I had previously been convinced there were very few ways to have an intellectually challenging career, like working in law and politics, medicine, or computer science. After realizing I didn’t want to sit in an office, have meetings with people I wouldn’t see again, and answer emails until I retire, I knew I didn’t want to study a subject that could land me there. Combining my love of activity and love of learning, I decided on physical therapy. I’ll be able to develop a relationship with clients while helping them recover using movement. This career is a mix of all my passions, which will help me create a fulfilling life.
If more people focused on the style of work they enjoy and personal interests when picking a career, society would be more productive and happier. People too often default to studying what they think will make the biggest salary, which leads them to be miserable later in life. Facilitating educated career selection is what will keep unemployment rates down and society specialized. In high school, I didn’t appreciate the journey people embark on to find their passions. Now, I plan to be true to my passions, not what might bring in a large paycheck.
I am a work in progress. I was six months ago and I will be until the day I die. Currently, I’ve been working making decisions the lead to a meaningful life for myself. My gap year has helped my grow into who I’m supposed to be and know that I am not missing out on what is meant for me.