Why take gap years?

Posted on: April 22, 2021Chicago

As someone who grew up in an Asian household, taking a break wasn’t at the top of the priority list… at least not according to my parents and culture. This mindset along with hard work and tough love, allowed my immigrant parents to support and raise 5 children. This meant working 7 days a week without break and years of dedication. Although brutal, it was the reason why we no longer had to worry about necessities such as having the money to put clothes on our backs and food on the table, which I am immensely grateful and privileged to be able to say. So, you can understand the disbelief and anger my parents felt when I told them I was going to take a gap year after college… Actually, make that 3 gap years.

So why did I decide to take so many and why do I think gap years are one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves? For first and foremost, I wanted more experience in the field of service. I know I’ve always loved serving others, but could I dedicate the rest of my life to serving? This is exactly the reason behind why I had chosen to serve with NHC Americorps.

However, the biggest reason behind my gap years was to find a new identity for myself as well as a heart for service. My entire life, being a student was my only identity. There was little growth and time to invest in discovering new passions and parts of myself outside of the studying and stress of a student’s life. By taking a couple gap years, I would allow myself to prioritize my happiness and growth in areas I couldn’t while in school. This includes learning more about mental health/self-love, new hobbies/passions, and to align my mind’s goals to become a physician with my heart’s passion to spend the rest of my life in a career oriented around serving others.

However, a gap year is what YOU make it out to be with what you want to achieve. To be young and in our 20’s, there’s so much we don’t know about ourselves and is the perfect time to explore. Taking gap years would allow you to invest in WHO you are outside of your career, a realm we don’t spend enough time exploring. I know delaying the race to the end goal profession can be stressful, especially when living in a country where we’re told to relentlessly chase after success. But if your dream REALLY IS to have x profession, the end is the same but what differs is the journey there. Never forget that life is a marathon, not a sprint.  

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Erie Westside Health Center
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Entrance on Ridgeway Avenue
Chicago, IL 60624
Erie West Town Health Center
1701 W. Superior
Chicago, IL 60622

Erie Amundsen School-Based Health Center
5110 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625

Erie Clemente Wildcats School-Based Health Center
1147 N. Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622

Erie Johnson School-Based Health Center
1504 S. Albany Ave.
Chicago, IL 60623

Erie Lake View School-Based Health Center
4015 North Ashland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60613

Erie Teen and Young Adult Health Center
2418 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622

Erie Westside Health Center
646 North Lawndale Avenue
Entrance on Ridgeway Avenue
Chicago, IL 60624