Jumping off the hamster wheel to take a gap year

Irene Chen/Staff

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When most people think of a “gap year,” they tend to think of the time between high school and college or the year during college before graduating. But for many seniors currently looking for jobs, it may be useful to think of a “gap year” in regards to what happens after graduation this May.

Taking time off from anything, especially within the UC Berkeley community, always seems to be looked down upon. If you aren’t involved in three extracurriculars and taking a full load of classes, you’re not doing enough. Or, better yet, if you’re not working on the side of balancing all your classes and clubs, then what are you doing with your spare time? It’s ridiculous how much UC Berkeley students add to their plate in order to “keep up with the competition” or “not miss out on anything the university has to offer.” In reality, these folks are simply jumping onto the hamster wheel, not realizing that the biggest competition is against themselves. If you are one of these people, drop some things off your plate. No one has expectations that you do everything you possibly can 24/7, and if they do, rethink that relationship. Surround yourself with your passions, take classes that fascinate you and realize that “taking a break” throughout the day is completely normal and that you need to spend time on yourself.

Taking a gap year after graduating may just be the best thing for you. If you’ve spent your years at UC Berkeley piling so many activities on your plate that it’s higher than a mountain, you have to ask yourself when you are going to give yourself a break. Taking a gap year does not mean lying around on your bed watching Netflix and eating Doritos. Instead, it means studying for law school or any type of higher education or simply finding yourself and exploring who you are before joining the workforce.

The notion of “taking a gap year” has been stigmatized to mean “Oh, that must mean you didn’t get a job” or “Why would you waste a year of your life doing nothing but studying/exploring, when you could be making money.” I suggest you ignore these comments and start doing what you want. It’s time to put yourself first. You just went on one of the biggest, life-altering journeys of your life: surviving UC Berkeley. Now, before jumping to the next adventure, don’t be afraid to take time for yourself, figure out what you’re looking for and start putting yourself first.

Contact Natalia Brusco at [email protected].