Why I’m so Glad I Took a Gap Year

I'm Glad I Took a Gap Year by Hepcat Hannah

Or should I say gap years?

I didn’t know what a gap year was growing up.  In fact, I hadn’t heard of them until I became interested in the travel blogging industry.
I hear a lot about gap years nowadays, through blogs that I read and other travel bloggers that I meet.

I didn’t take a typical gap year myself, not exactly.  At least not in the strict sense of the phrase.  Somewhere between graduating high school (as a home-schooler) and now, I did some traveling, and decided that college wasn’t the route I wanted to take.  Over a year ago, I made up my mind to be a travel blogger.  So I suppose, in those couple of years between graduating & that final career decision, I did in fact take my own version of a gap year (or years, as it were).

Those weren’t stagnant years for me.  I’ve always been interested in so many things.  In those years, I figured out what my passions truly were.  What I was most skilled at, and what I wasn’t skilled at at all.  I’ll give you a few examples:

The Equestrian

Why I'm Glad I Took a Gap Year by Hepcat HannahI loved horses growing up.  I was crazy, crazy about horses.  Three years ago my family moved to a farm, and we finally lived at the right place to make my dream a reality.  So I started the search for “my horse.”  The idea made me giddy.

I did find the horse of my dreams.  He was a bay Thoroughbred named Pete, and in his early teens.  We bought him, and boarded him at the stable, with the intention of me taking some riding lessons for a few weeks before we brought him home.  I loved taking the lessons, especially once I learned to jump.  Those few weeks soon turned into nearly a whole year.  I got to compete in my first (and last) horse show, and even won a few ribbons.

The expense was excruciating though.  They say horse racing is the sport of kings.  I think owning a horse, competing, riding English, well it’s also not for a person with a small pocketbook.
We did end up bringing him home.  But soon found out that a lone Thoroughbred makes for quite an unhappy horse.  So I bought a pony.  Then my parents bought a couple more horses so we could “ride together.” I had hopes of breeding the mare, as she was a darling Missouri Fox Trotter with fairytale long mane & tail.
I finally traded my Thoroughbred for a Paint, which I hoped would be easier to handle since he was not “hot blooded.”  That didn’t turn out so well either.
Because of several scenarios that I won’t go into, I ended up selling my horse & pony, and my parents sold their two horses.

Lessons learned:

  • Horses are beautiful, and riding them is something I love.
  • Horses are also expensive, super high maintenance, and at times very, very dangerous.
  • I’m a pretty nice & sensitive person (my instructor said so), and that means horses like to take advantage of me.  Humph!
  • There’s a lot that goes into making a business with horses (breeding, etc), and I don’t want to be tied down to one place.

The Craftswoman

Why I'm Glad I Took a Gap Year by Hepcat Hannah

Every since I was a little girl, I’ve been a bit of a craft-a-holic.  I taught myself to crochet & sew, and took knitting lessons.  Those were my main hobbies (besides reading) up into my early teens.  At the age of 14 I started selling my wares at consignment stores, and kept it up for several years.  In fact, I still have items on consignment at a local craft store.

I also spent 3 months working at that same store.  It was my first job working for someone, an actual business.  I’d gotten by fine for years creating jobs for myself.  I learned a lot at this job.  It was one of the most hectic times in my life.  But yes, it was definitely a learning experience.

I did however walk away with two beneficial skills under my belt.  I learned how to weave a tri-shawl, and I found out that I’m not as bad as math as I’d always thought I was (at least when it comes to counting money & operating a cash register).

Lessons learned:

  • Customers can be unforgivably rude.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t always so painfully polite…
  • I’m not a good sales person.  It’s hard for me to approach a person with the mindset of trying to sell them something.
  • I am most definitely an introvert.  And when you work at a job where your boss & coworkers insist you should be bright & bubbly for 10 hours a day, well…  Let’s just say my social anxiety issues arose around the time I quit this job, and after I remained home for several months to recover.  I still deal with those issues on a daily basis.
  • I don’t want to do the same thing every day, and remain in one place for the rest of my life.

The Sheep & Bunny Farmer  Professional Livestock Breeder

Okay, so this business venture was directly related to my interests in spinning yarn, along with knitting & crocheting.  I won’t say that breeding sheep & bunnies was something I was excessively keen on doing… well, maybe just a little tinsy bit.  I owned four Old English Babydoll sheep, and two French Angora rabbits.  If you know these breeds, I don’t have to tell you how cute they are.

Lessons Learned: 

  • Bunnies are cute until they scratch up your arms.  And until it’s time to clean out their cages (once a week).  And until it’s time to harvest their coat (Eek!  Not in the way you think.  Angora’s molt their coat, and the fur is used to make luxury yarn).
  • Ewes are darlings.  Rams have the potential & likelihood of being very mean.  Trimming sheep’s hooves is an all morning event, takes at least three people, and I still have the physical scars from this ordeal.
    I have mental scars from the time I lost one of my ewes to some neighbor’s dogs that were “just having fun.”
  • I don’t like to be tied down.

I Took a Gap Year & Why I'm so Glad by Hepcat Hannah

Conclusions

I learned a lot about myself during those years.  Working with animals is time consuming, and you can’t leave home at the drop of a hat.  Being my own boss suits me very well.  I’m a friendly person, but I’m also as introverted as an introvert can get.  And most of all, I don’t want to live in one place.  I want to be free to travel when I want.
Another important factor is that I love to write.  Romantic fiction is what I like best.  But just in general, I love writing.  I express myself best through writing.

So a year ago I started my travel blog.  To be specific it was May 26th, 2015 (yes, my blog’s birthday is coming up soon!).  And guess what?  This is a career (although I see it as an adventurous lifestyle) suits me quite well.  I travel, I write, and I can me my sweet, introverted self.

Three years ago, when I was 18, I had no clue what a travel blogger was, let alone wanted to be one.  I was just a dreamer, a writer, a hobbyist.  If I’d simply gone to college without knowing what I wanted or knowing myself, I probably wouldn’t have chosen this career.  Jeepers, I would probably be oblivious to the travel blogging industry. 😮

Final Thoughts

I’ll wrap thing up by saying, none of this was easy.  At this moment, when I look back at the past three years, I’d say they were my darkest years.  Figuring out what to do with your life, it’s tough.  It’s stressful.  The anxieties are very real.
But they’ve also been my happiest years.  This last one especially.  When you finally figure out where your heart is, where your passions lie, that’s when you can focus on what to do.  I’m a planner, for sure.  I get lost if I don’t have a plan.  So yes for a couple of years I was a little lost.  And it scared the heck out of me.  But, I’m okay now.  I’ve got a plan. 

I know I’ve mostly talked about my “business ventures” & career decisions in this post.  Besides that stuff, I also traveled during my “gap years.”  I went to Belize, Canada, and Panama.  Those were the highlights of these past few years, and definitely encouraged my travel bug.

Now I want to hear your plans!  Are you going to take a gap year?  Have you taken one already?  Do tell, I’d love to hear about it!

 

About Hannah

Hannah is a vintage girl with two things always on her mind: Traveling & Books. When she’s not out exploring the world, she is at home on her parent’s farm in the Ozarks, planning her next adventure or writing romantic fiction. The travel bug hit her at an early age, and she skipped the college scene in favor of a career in travel blogging. Hannah loves jazz music, is slightly obsessed about her INFJ personality type, and is a lot quieter in person than she is in the blogosphere. Until you get to know her, that is.

2 thoughts on “Why I’m so Glad I Took a Gap Year

  1. I LOVE horses too! I took riding lessons when I was little. By the time I was 12 I had saved over $1000 for my horse. Sadly I never got my horse. I also fell off a horse when I was 14 and had to have surgery on my left wrist. Horses are dangerous, but I will never stop loving them. Maybe one day I hope to have one…but that would mean I would have to settle in one place long enough! Haha! Gap years are the best! You learn so much!

    1. Oh, wow! That must have been tough to go through as a kid. I remember one experience I had, where a certain person forgot to turn the flash off their camera while they were taking a picture of me on a pony. He became frightened, and did a horsey-type ninja move that jarred me enough for me to loose my seat. I believe I ended up from the side of the pony, just inches above the ground. I was about the same age, 11-12 years old. I came through it virtually unscathed, and the friend who owned the pony actually insisted that I get back on. Which was probably smart since I’d might never have gotten on a horse again.
      From my article, you can probably tell that I mentally recovered from that experience, enough to ride for years & collect even more scarier ones. lol But lots of lovely experiences too. It’s like you said. Horses are dangerous, but I could never stop loving them.
      Tell me, Ronda, have you ever watched The Man From Snowy River? That was my favorite movie growing up, simply because of all the horses!

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