Why deferring from college for a year was the best decision I made

Larissa Diaz


September 3, 2016

Yes it is true, that the road less traveled is hard to walk, but here is why I decided to defer from college for a year. My senior year of High School I was involved in so many different local organizations, projects and doing various presentations on local issues. I was on top of my classes and making sure I did all my work and made sure all my projects were done on time. 

 In the beginning of my senior year of high school I thought I was supposed to know what I wanted to study, who I wanted to be and I thought I was supposed to have it all together after I turned 18 years old. The truth is, I did not feel that way at all and I felt scared and nervous that perhaps I had done something wrong and maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. Thinking of this I began to take on more work and volunteering at more places thinking perhaps all I had to do was work harder and try harder. It felt like it was really working at first, but then shortly after I got really sick because I was not resting enough. Juggling everything from school to extra curricular activities and family responsibilities it was impossible for me to stop and focus on my well being and myself. I began to feel very overwhelmed and began to dislike the work I was involved in. I lost my love for learning and really was concerned that I felt so lost and exhausted with no clue of what I wanted to do in my future. 

I continued to volunteer and go to meetings and do presentations, but I remember one day I was having such a rough day and on my way home on the bus I remember that it had been raining all day and the wind that was blowing was freezing. As I sat at the bus stop waiting to go home, I remember looking down at my clothes and noticing how damp they were and how cold my feet were because my shoes and socks were also wet. I was thinking about how I would have to rush home and quickly change in order to make it to a meeting I had shortly after school, but some reason in that moment feeling so cold and tired, I finally admitted that my method of “trying to get my life together” was really making me fall apart. I didn’t go to the meeting I had that day and instead really sat with myself and thought about what I could be doing wrong.

As I was contemplating this question I noticed that it was not just me who was exhausted and over working herself, my other classmates had also been doing the same, thinking that it was normal to over work yourself so much that most mornings we depended on high caffeinated drinks just to stay alert in classes. I realized that this was an issue because we were made to believe that this was normal, and that this was the way you get into your dream college and go on to pursue your dream job. Honestly the whole method was a nightmare, and dream college? How could I think of a dream college when I was too exhausted to even think of the next day let alone my future, and also still did not know what I wanted to do. I thought of so many solutions to my problem, but only one made sense to me. I realized that maybe I was so tired because the method and idea I had of success or what is “normal”of a high school senior, was not for me. 

I remember going on a field trip with my principal and other students, while he was asking everyone what they wanted to do after college I was dreading the moment I would have to answer and basically say “I don’t know”. When the question eventually came to me, I stayed quiet for a bit thinking that I would be that student who was “lost”. Surprisingly when I said I was not sure of what I wanted to do my principal understood and if anything encouraged that I do not rush to seek what I want to pursue as a career or study in college. He gave me multiple ideas of what I could possibly do instead of heading straight into college feeling overwhelmed and unsure. He mentioned a daring idea of taking a gap year and going abroad. Hearing how it would open my mind, give me a whole new perspective on life and myself, and give me time to focus on myself, made me fall involve with the idea of taking a gap year.

After that conversation, I was very grateful that he had shared this idea with me. I knew it was not something normally students do after graduating high school, but then again I had never been very normal. When I spoke of the idea with my parents I was so happy and grateful that they supported my idea and if anything thought it would be a wonderful experience for me. After that Global Citizen Year was recommended to me also by my principal and I eagerly awaited the day the application would be open. This idea of taking a gap year finally felt right and I was relieved to have found this amazing opportunity. I know what it is like to be exhausted and unsure of your future, and sadly that is many high school students today, but luckily there are amazing programs such as Global Citizen Year that is breaking that linear chain and helping students find their passions and also find their love for learning again. 

As I type this I am heading to Quito, Ecuador to start my gap year journey, and I could not be more excited and more eager to face the unknown of my year to come. I know this is where I need to be, and I feel so blessed to have this opportunity and to also have all the amazing support from friends and family back home. 

It is time to break the linear path to college and our futures and embrace the reality of the messy ups and downs life has to offer that create the most beautiful experiences and memories. I know there will be good and bad days, but I know that without the bad I could not appreciate the good and without the good I could not learn from the bad. This is why I deferred from college.

Larissa Diaz