In late August 2020, I went against the grain. With the COVID-19 virus wreaking havoc across the globe, and particularly in the US, I decided that I didn’t want to start college that month. Online lessons? Classes at 2 AM in my time zone? And still paying a fortune for all this? No thank you!

So I decided to defer my college entry to the spring and take a gap semester of 4 months. The only issue? I didn’t even know what I was going to do with all that time! I hadn’t planned on a global pandemic interrupting my life’s path, and yet here I was, facing 4 months of boredom. Looking back many months later, there certainly were times during this long break when I felt bored, lonely, and sometimes just anxious. Yet, weirdly enough, it was during these times that I learned the most about myself. Now, I’d like to share three of these things I learnt with you guys.

My Learnings

  1. It’s OK to not be OK: I learned that life is an experience. If I only had good things come my way, it wouldn’t be such a fun story to tell, would it? All those times I felt lost about where I was going and what I was doing with my time were necessary for me to really enjoy the best parts of my gap semester. I used to resist and fight negative feelings, but I learnt to accept them. They’d still hurt, but by letting these feelings be, I knew I could at least avoid the trap of feeling sorry for myself and spiraling into self-pity. Now I at least had an awesome origin story for my autobiography.
  2. Sometimes, drive is all you need: I decided to adopt the ol’ “if you don’t like something, try to change it” adage. Facing nothing really drove me to try things I wouldn’t have otherwise done. I found a great internship, discovered a renewed passion to learn Korean, and even got back in contact with family and friends I’d never talked much to. With the drive to make the most of my newfound time, I broadened my horizons like never before.
  3. The little things aren’t so little after all: This takeaway was BIG. So many of the little things I’d previously brushed aside – having a heart-to-heart with my parents, meeting friends, even just going for walks – felt like gifts during my COVID-ridden gap semester. I learned to appreciate these small blessings that I did have when everything else seemed chaotic. As a result, when bigger and better things came, I could appreciate how much they really meant after all.

Now, as a full-time college student, I try my best to remember these things I learned. And although my COVID-era gap semester was filled with uncertainty, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. How many others get to say they took a gap semester during the height of a pandemic?

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!

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