"He's taking a year off to find himself." *insert eye roll here*
I think we see this a lot in the media today. When someone claims to be "finding his/herself" it is seen as a.) silly, b.) pretentious or c.) hippy-like. I confess, I used to be that person rolling my eyes. I used to be that person who thought "finding myself" was code for "some a ton of weed" and "be lazy." I was that person because I was a girl who knew EXACTLY what she wanted to do with her life.
I'm not that girl anymore.
At the end of this semester, I am moving to New York City and I am taking a semester (or a year, depending) off from school before applying to transfer. Why? It has nothing to do with being lazy or pretentious or wanting to smoke weed. In fact, it isn't even because college is too stressful (it is stressful, but that has little to do with my decision). It's because I want to find myself.
I know what I want in life. I want to be a writer - and, hey, I got started on that goal early! Woot! Here's the thing though - I don't JUST want to be a writer. I want a day job, too. I want a job that will let me work with people since writing is so solitary. I want a job that will get me out of my apartment and keep me from becoming a recluse. What that job will be? I'm not sure.
I originally wanted to be a literary agent, but some experiences over the past year have shown me that, while I would LOVE to be an agent, I won't have time. Agenting takes up a lot of time, and if I continued to write as much as I do and, maybe, more one day - I won't be able to handle the work load. Others can, but I'm not sure I'm one of them. In fact, I know I'm not one of them.
So now I have to "find myself." And believe me, I'm ready for the eye rolls. I'm also ready for that question.
Why can't you find yourself while you're in school?
I asked myself that, too, but after a long talk with my mother, whom I never thought would support this but she did, I realized that college is expensive and paying for an education in a field I may never use seems silly. I'm no longer going to be a writing major because it is preparing me for a job I already have, and there are so many other thing I'd like to do, like to learn. Picking one while i"m in school, wasting time and money, would hurt me in the long run.
But I didn't mean for this post to be all about me. It's more about our society and this idea of going straight to college after high school. This is a very American thing, I've learned, because in other countries a "gap year" is a really, really common thing. High schoolers often take a year off after high school to figure out what they want, to travel, to work, to "find themselves" in a sense.
That's not the case here. Taking time off has a stigma attached to it. One I used to buy into. But the more I think on it and the more I read, the more I wonder if the gap year would have helped me. I've spent 2 years majoring in something I'm not particularly happy with, two years focusing on a career that, had I thought about it, I would have known wasn't a great option. Two years of time I could have used elsewhere.
I think teenagers today are forced into college a little too early. I think that the social expectations placed on teens are harsh and unrealistic. My God, NONE of my friends know what they are going to do when they graduate, but they keep taking these classes because taking a year off to figure it out would be "stupid." I think our priorities are a little out of order here, and it's something that worries me.
I've come to the conclusion that everyone needs to find themselves. Whether that's at college or studying abroad or volunteering for a summer or just some time off to get things in order and figure out what you want - I think it's okay. I do think - STRONGLY think - that college educations are very important. VERY important. But they are also very expensive, and it is my personal opinion that one should have a good notion of what they want to spend that tuition learning before jumping in.
There is nothing wrong with finding yourself . . . . unless you really do just want to be lazy and smoke weed, in which case that isn't finding yourself at all and this commentary doesn't apply to you.
But I want to hear your thoughts. Does finding oneself have a stigma? Do you think the phrase is used as a cover for other things? How do you feel about the college system here in the US? Share your thoughts! Discussions are always great new ways to learn.