"Stop wasting time and get on with life."

"Get your studies over and done with quickly."

"I think it's not worth the money or time."

This is what I've been hearing from most people for the past one year. It's either I should just get on with my studies quickly so I can start earning a living, or just forget about my degree and start working. It seemed like it was only last month that I made a decision to take a gap year; a 1-year break away from studies to gain some working experience. It isn't common in Singapore, or I think in Asia, but I felt the need to just step back and take a good look at what I was doing and what I plan to do. It felt like an even bigger risk to me just throwing thousands of dollars into studying a degree which I'm not sure if I'll be happy about.  

If you are considering the option to take a gap year, the 4 tips below may be useful for you. But before I give you the 4 tips, here's a brief introduction story:

I graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2015, and because of the growing academic inflation in Singapore, it was important that I quickly choose a Degree Course I'd like to continue my studies in. Getting a stable and high-paying job is one of the few tasks to having a good life in Singapore or at least many people deemed; They said getting a degree is like half a battle won because a degree holder tends to advance much faster and are more favoured in the industries.

However, I don't wish to spend 3 to 4 years worth of my time and money just so I can 'make my life easier' in the future. I want to make every action and every second count. Although a degree may help me in some ways, I believe that genuine hard work will be more rewarding in the most important ways. I had a chat with a nurse I met today who also mentioned something which resonated with me: "Do not be hardworking just to put on a show. Work hard because you mean it. Make the world a better place and you'll find yourself being happy  too." And so because I was truly unsure and lost, I decided to take a gap year to figure out my plans. At the same time, I decided to pick up a new skill that I was interested in - floristry. That started my 1-year journey in Poppy Flora Studio.

Poppy Flora Studio

Of course, my other goal was to save as much as I can and the florist industry certainly requires some trade-off. It wasn't easy but I set my priorities and made a compromisation which I was comfortable with. At the end of the journey, I had no regrets. Apart from the art of Floristry, I've picked up Social Media Marketing Skills, Basic Website Development, Retail Store Management, Basic Adobe Photoshop Skills, Photography & much more. Of course, I also got to meet many friends from different walks of life. Below I've summarised 4 advice which you need to know before deciding to take a gap year:

  1. Choose the kind of life you want to live - People are going to give you all kinds of advice. It's good to keep an opened mind, but at the same time remember that these are coming out from their experiences. It's what they think would be best for themselves so remember to ask yourself if it would be best for you too. If you think you'd ever regret going down a certain path, think twice.
  2. Know your goals -  You probably have already heard this before but I cannot emphasise this more. You will only feel that your time is worth it once you've accomplished whatever you wish to accomplish. And the first step would be of course to know your goals. You may not have it figured out yet but start somewhere. Choose a topic that interests you and go for it because you will never know if it's something you'd like to pursue if you haven't got a real taste of it (and it'll haunt you for life). You can figure out your goals during your journey too.
  3. Don't take too long - Although it's good to take some time to really THINK about your life decisions, don't take too long. Time is always moving forward and you need to know that opportunities don't always wait for you. Be smart and know when's the due date for your job / school application. Search  for opportunities in the market, or in school. These factors will play a part in your planning.
  4. Make your time worth - You'll feel it in your gut, which path is better for you. Whatever choice you've chosen, stick with it and enjoy your time! Remember that you are in control.

The time is yours to make it worth it. "For there are no regrets in Life, just lessons". Good luck!

Published by Cassandra Chong