Taking A Year Off After Graduation
It was like any other day. The same old morning routine as I reached out for my phone to dive into the latest social media updates while sipping a hot cuppa... and that’s when I remembered. It was graduation day and a certain black robe was waiting for me.
Was I excited? I don’t know.
My friends and family were certainly happy. “I’m so proud of you” were the first words I heard that morning. It was my mom. There were two kisses on my cheek that day. That’s one more than the usual as I was completing college.
Six of my closest friends and I decided to get to our campus early to spend some time walking around the place. A simple stroll in the gallery soon turned into a discussion on what we were going to do next. Some had already taken up internships as copywriters and journalists, and some were keen on doing their masters. And me? I was blank.
I didn’t know what to say and kept quiet till it was time. I received my degree as my name got called out and did all the regular stuff that followed. Once it all faded, the big question struck me: What am I going to do next?
In college, not everyone knows what to do in their career. There are many who do, but I’m talking to all those who don’t know what to do next. Yes, we are the majority. Not saying that I’m proud of it, but sometimes not knowing is not so bad.
I made the big decision to take a year off. Probably the best decision I made at that time. I talked to my mom who seemed okay with it (at least she sounded okay). But sitting at home was not an option either. I didn’t want to do any random job that would take up my time.
I looked around desperately for something in my interest and after two weeks of trying, my college professor offered me a part time job as his assistant. I was so happy.
I had 4 hours of work every day of compiling study materials, preparing test papers and sometimes even correcting them. It left me enough time to explore what I really wanted to do. There are many directions a literature major can go but to know what you really want takes time.
I spent the remaining time of my day learning. Every day, I’d open my laptop and read. Literature, blogs, stories, news articles, and almost everything that interested me back then. I was learning to play the guitar, learning Spanish, working out, improving my personality, and weighing out career options.
I’d talk to all my friends who were working and studying and learn by their experiences if it’s worth taking that turn. I canceled out a few options that didn’t fit into my goals and struck some higher courses off the list that weren’t useful for me.
Then came the backpacking trip. I traveled across the country using the cheapest modes. Slept in weird motels and met some interesting people. Traveling was something I had longed for and I finally got to do it. It all worked out, as I could do my part-time job online as well.
Traveling gave me the idea for my new career path. I sat in public libraries for doing my work and that’s where I saw students studying, making notes, and looking for good study materials. There were so many of them.
Meanwhile, I had started to enjoy my job to a point where it didn’t feel like work anymore but became my leisure time activity. I liked reading and summarizing the notes. My professor was happy with my work and that’s when I got the idea of becoming a tutor myself.
There were some amazing prospects for ESL teachers all around the world and that’s something I’d love to do. And just like that, I had found my way, and taking the year off helped rediscover myself. Was I excited? I don’t know.
Having figured it out, I was more scared than ever. What if I couldn’t? But I didn’t have any more time to waste. So I put those thoughts behind me and started working on getting my TESOL certification. I was very much focused on completing the course and once I did, I applied to some schools and private institutions.
Learning a new language was helpful for my resume for teaching ESL to Latin American students and all the reading that I did added to my credibility. I chose to join a private institution as I thought the students there would be more keen on learning the new language.
Three years into teaching, I have worked with some amazing students, traveled to two countries and started my very own online classroom. Things just happen to you when you love what you do, right?
Taking some time off and investing in yourself helps a lot. Not knowing what you really want keeps you on the run. Don’t panic. Don’t drop out. Finish what you start.
It seems like I am moving in the right direction. I love my job, but how long will I do it? Again, I don’t know. Maybe, I will keep doing it or maybe not. Maybe, I’ll take another year off to know.
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