The Argosy

Meg’s Gap Year Adventures

The Story Behind the Decision

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

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CALDWELL—Former Argosy staff member, Meghan Murphy ’17, recently embarked on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, as part of a gap year. She joined Via Volunteers, an organization based out of Cape Town that sends volunteers to work with children or animal sanctuaries.

Meg started a blog to share all of her gap year adventures and The Argosy plans to follow along. Below is the first of her entries and she explains the reasons for her decision. To read more, visit: http://megsgap.blogspot.com.


Hey everyone! Thanks so much for taking the time to check out my adventures this year, it means a lot to me. As most of you already know, I have decided to take a gap year between graduating high school and beginning college. I have many reasons for doing this, most of which I’ve found I have not fully explained to you guys. I think it’s important for people to understand why I did it, not for my own validation but rather so that others in the future know and understand that it is totally okay to make decisions based on their own personal needs, and not based off of what everyone else is doing. So with that, I present to you The Story Behind the Decision.

Back in November in the height of college applications, I felt as though I was being crushed. I had stupidly not started anything over the previous summer, and while some of my classmates were sending in their final essays to schools and wrapping up their college application process as a whole, I was struggling to even come up with an idea for my essay. The image of a cursor blinking on my white, empty Google Doc haunted me in my dreams. While my classmates nervously yet eagerly chatted about college; the schools they applied to, their essay topics, and all their hopes for the spring, I cowered, pulling back from the conversations and wishing it would all just go away.

Nothing about anything was making sense to me during this time, but even worse than that, nothing was appealing to me. I could not motivate myself to even think about next fall, let alone do anything about getting where I needed to be. I just kept wallowing in my self pity, pushing off working on my applications until the January 1st due date loomed over my head, consuming almost every space in my brain. I began eating less and less, the stress consuming every ounce of my existence, mentally and physically. I felt lost, alone, and confused. In a nutshell, I hated college and everything that came with it.

Finally, one night when it all felt too much, I broke down. I had been trying, and failing, to work on my applications, when my mom walked in my room. She noticed my distress, asked me if I was okay, and that was all it took. Tears began pouring out of my eyes as I tried to respond to her question. I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling, because I didn’t even know exactly what it was. My mom just held me tight as I babbled on about being stressed, practically inconsolable. Nothing I was saying was making sense, I was sure of it, but my mom, continuing to show me that she knows me better than almost anyone, looked at me suddenly.

“Meg,” she said, “do you think you need to take some time off of school after graduation?”

I stared at her, processing what she had said as my tears slowed until they came to an eventual stop. YES!!!!I My brain was screaming at me, as something clicked. I had never, ever considered it before, as the environment I had been surrounded by never really allowed those thoughts into my head. And I’m not blaming anyone for that, truly, it isn’t anyone’s fault other than the society that has been evolving around us for years. But this, taking time off of school, was exactly what I needed.

We discussed different options, whether I would take just a semester off or the whole year, and after a few more long discussions with both my parents, and a few more tears, I decided on taking an entire year off of school. I explained to them how I felt stuck, like school was consuming my entire life but not actually teaching me anything I felt was worthwhile for my future. I was planning on going into college to “learn how to help others”, but how does sitting in a classroom listening to a professor talk teach me that? I had never had any real experience with true community service; I never felt as though I could count the hours I scraped together to fill my school’s service requirement because between school, homework, and after school activities, I hardly had time to do anything meaningful. I had spent my entire life sitting in a classroom, shoving information into my head only to forget it two minutes after the test. My senior year, I spent 80 minutes 3 times a week sitting in a social justice class, learning about the horrors of the world but not how to fix them. I felt so stuck inside the bubble of my perfect life, with the knowledge that there was so much hate and hurt going on in the world, but virtually nothing I could do about it.

So instead of forcing myself down the same path as everyone else, because it was what I was “supposed to be doing”, I took control over my frustration. I worked closely with my guidance counselor, who was a HUGE help, and together we called schools, asking them about their specific deferment policies. I found that every one of the seven schools I had applied to was totally okay with someone deferring for a year, as long as I explained why I was doing it. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders as I gathered more and more information about taking a gap year. Everything seemed as though it was finally falling into place. I was going to be learning in a different environment, one that would give me space to explore who I am and who I want to be. I would have the world, and all the amazing experiences it has to offer, as my classroom.

This is not me saying, in any way at all, that my taking a gap year makes me superior to anyone who didn’t. Instead, I want to stress how important it is to not lose sight of what we want and need in our own lives. It’s so easy to get caught up in the process that is college: visiting schools as young as a sophomores, writing and rewriting that perfect college essay, and the stressful process of actually applying to the schools, that it’s easy to forget this is something we’re supposed to want. And if we don’t, we shouldn’t push those feelings to the side because they seem wrong, we should take the time to address them and decide the best path based on what we personally need.

So, now that I’ve shared my story with you all, on to the fun stuff! Welcome to my Gap Year Blog! I will be posting pictures, videos, and stories on this page, keeping you constantly updated about my year. Please feel free to take advantage of the comments section; post questions or even suggestions about what you want to see. I’m so excited to explore parts of the world I haven’t seen before, and I can’t wait to take you all with me!

xox,

Meg

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