Yes that’s me, London College of Fashion dropout & gap year girl 2018 (is it dropping out if you never actually attended in the first place?). It was August of 2018 that my place to study BSc Fashion Management at London College of Fashion was confirmed – a course I’d convinced myself I wanted to study for a long time. I grew up dreaming of studying at LCF, as a child I wanted to be a fashion designer but quickly realised that while I have a creative brain, this most certainly does not translate onto paper.
Coming from an academic school, I was surrounded by people going into the kind of degrees that sound really impressive on paper – veterinary medicine, astrophysics, you name it. I’ve always singled myself out and put myself in the ‘creative’ box – with the idea that I’m just not meant to be academic. In a sense, I felt like fashion was all I was capable of. Despite this, I still felt like I should be doing something academic with my future and so decided that fashion business (while nowhere near as impressive as the subjects mentioned) was a somewhat ‘compromise’ between a creative yet substantial career. Stupid, I know. When I think about it, I really didn’t have my head screwed on. Throughout sixth form, university was something pushed upon almost every student and I think I felt a huge pressure to go. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether I actually did want to study a creative subject, or whether I just thought that’s all I was academically capable of after comparing myself with Oxford/Cambridge levels of intelligence for almost 7 years.
Results day rolled around and I was in. I was surrounded by people who were ecstatic to be off to university and while I was happy for them and somewhat myself too, I couldn’t help but have this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was doing the wrong thing. So much so, I ditched the results day celebrations after about 2 hours, had a nice cry and went to sleep (standard Elle). I remember having conversations like ‘I just want a career where I can help people’ and feeling like fashion just would not be fulfilling for me. A couple of weeks, a lot of overthinking and a world record number of deep-chat-stress-walks with my parents went by and I was left with only days to decide whether or not I was taking the plunge (and the debt) and doing this whole uni thing. As you can tell, an involuntary gap year it was.
If you think gap years are easy, you could not be more wrong. While this was the right decision for me, it’s certainly not been fun and games or without significant down-sides. I thought I would compile all of the things I’ve learned about gap years so far – and god help me because its only been 5 months. Here are the things they DON’T tell you about gap years:
- Everybody seems to have an opinion on them, regardless of whether they took one or not. Example: I was getting my hair cut and the hairdresser was asking what I’m currently doing in life; ‘I think they’re a waste of time’ she says. Well thank you very much lady for your opinion ~that nobody asked for~. While I’m making a joke out of this, saying things like this to young people who are still figuring out their career is kind of unacceptable, we all know what it’s like worrying about whether or not you’ve made the right decisions in life and other people imposing their negative opinions doesn’t exactly help.
- They can be slightly lonely depending on your situation. Don’t let this put you off because it certainly differs from person to person but you obviously lose the comfort of having your entire circle of friends around you. Generally the chances are you’ll know at least 1 or 2 people that stay at home. For me though, that wasn’t the case. It’s totally fine though and as times gone on I’ve learned to love being independent. I think that actually, this has made me more secure in myself in that I don’t need to constantly be around people to be happy.
- Joining on to part 2, your social life won’t exactly be wild (unless you put in maximum effort). This was never a shock to me, I obviously knew this was one of the negatives I’d have to take from the situation. No problem though because its only for a year and I’m sure I’ll make up for it if I actually do go to uni. There’s also a number of ways around this through gap year travelling or working.
- You will second guess yourself! There will be moments where you question whether this actually was the right thing to do – even whether you’ve chosen to do the right thing after your gap year is over (and people like lovely lady in point 1. do not help let me tell you). I think in a way this is normal, no doubt I’ll still be doing this even when I’m 40. Does anyone actually know what they’re doing in life or are we all just winging it?
- Last but not least, nothing and I mean NOTHING will prepare you for the amount of times you will have to explain and justify your life choices to other people. It seems you hit an age where every conversation starts with people wanting to know what you’re doing and more importantly, why. Don’t ever feel like you have to justify your choices to other people (even though I just did in this entire blog post). People will have their own ideas of what a gap year should be and try to impose them on you, “oh aren’t you travelling?”, “oh, don’t you have 8327 internships yet?”, and to that I say: bugger off!
I hope this was a light-hearted look at gap years and my experience so far. Honestly it hasn’t been half as bad as I’ve probably made it sound, considering I was so terrified to take one, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The most important thing – and something I hope you take from my initial mistake – is never doubt your capabilities. Don’t put yourself in an academic box, you are capable of more than you give yourself credit for.