I may not have had the linear path that many school leavers take, and now at nearly 20, I’m a fresher yet again. A perfect time to, when I’m not snowed under with coursework, reflect on the last few years of studying, working, interning and travelling, and how they have benefitted or costed me in many ways. This post is aimed at those in their final year of school stressing about university, those who are at university and unhappy, or those that consider themselves inferior for not having a degree. I hope it helps!
I’m nearly a month into my BA (Hons) in Fashion Communication at Heriot Watt university, with the school of design based in Galashiels, a small town in the Scottish Borders with a strong textile heritage. Its a real effort to wake up at 5:30am each morning to grab the train down there for 9am lectures, but the facilities and expertise at the campus make it all worth it, plus it means I get to stay living in Edinburgh, the city I am totally and utterly in love with, with my best friends in a hilariously 70’s flat. So far I’m happy with my decision, which is so rare for me as one of the world’s least decisive people (I genuinely struggle with deciding on breakfast options every morning!), and this is a breath of fresh air after a year of stress about my options and the burden of choice.
The first time I took a gap year I thought I would miss out on the social side of university that all my friends were enjoying, and be miles and miles behind my generation academically and career wise. It turns out the opposite was true. Without the stacks of coursework to do like my peers, my social life truly blossomed and I met my soulmate. Whats more, I got a year’s worth of work experience in fashion, and even travelled across the pond to study a fashion short course and explore my dream city. Most importantly, I got my mental and physical health back on track. I realised quite quickly after starting university the following year at RGU, that wellbeing should value far above education, after experiencing a relapse into severe depression and bulimia. So the second gap year was necessary too. I also scored a job I adore at The Scottish Design Exchange, which I still love to this day.
So why did I decide to go back to academia? Well, put simply, this time it was because I wanted to. I am an absolute nerd for learning everything I can about the fashion industry, making new friends and getting good grades will just be a bonus. And if at some point I decide its not for me, I know I have the skills and experience to fall back on. University isn’t everything. It isn’t essential. Its a choice. And I would recommend to any school leaver to take a gap year or two or three or more, because who really knows what they want in life at 17?!