Redefining the “Gap Year”

Perhaps writing this post will be superfluous, but it will make me feel better.

Today I went to Conestoga College and interviewed as a candidate for inclusion in the Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) program. It’s a program that I’ve been silently fascinated with for some time now; I have the ruthless desire to take my youth, energy, and savings from the previous year’s work and put it towards a radical re-branding of who I am as a person. I don’t want to be the quiet, jaded, introverted academic anymore. I want to be bold, I want to be badass, and I want to have concrete skills that I can take home at the end of a workday and wake up with in the morning.

If you’ve been following my posts, you have probably noted the angst in my readings of the current new’s articles about university students and their lack of employable skills. I firmly believe that universities are profiting at the expense of young people, but I also value my higher-levels of education and critical thinking skills. It’s a contrast that I’m struggling with right now; it’s shaking up my soul.

Many will think “Maria, you’ve been working for six long years to get where you are now. Why are you throwing it all away in a pathetic attempt to re-brand yourself?”. I agree that I have been working hard, and the rewards have been many. I have been lucky enough to receive scholarships, moral support, and kudos from all of my academic peers. I am liked and respected by my classmates. But there’s been a seed of doubt in my mind about the academic and professional worlds for a long time now, and it’s time to take action on my impulses.

I don’t want to end up in a service or retail position after the morale boost of finishing my Master’s program. I don’t want the lengthy and depressing struggle of a PhD program, followed by unclear career prospects as a professor or postdoc. I fear the bland and repetitive nature of office work. The WIST program, which will be challenging for me as a student and a person, is an exciting life change that will allow me to set an example to the world: “Hey, I’m smart, and I’m a girl, and I can do it all!”.

Maybe it’s a foolish dream – I have lots on the go. I am struggling to prioritize where to focus all of my attentions. But I currently have available to me an incredible opportunity to redefine myself in less than one year (precisely, 38 weeks), and I’m going to take it. My first thought about this timeline was the “Gap Year“, defined by Wikipedia as “time out to travel between life stages. It is also known as a sabbatical, time off, time out and a year out, referring to a period of time (not necessarily 12 months) in which people disengage from curricular education and/or work.”

I am going to take the Gap Year, and redefine it as “time out to study completely outside of one’s field”. I’ll immerse myself in this other way of living. The world moves too fast – it is time to experience new things and upset my rigid personal boundaries.

Your thoughts on this life experience are welcome – please email legault.maria [at] gmail.com or comment on social media!

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