Clóda Scanlon, 22, Irish Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger, UCC Student, Rome.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Why Everyone Should Take A Year Out

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Hey everyone, happy Tuesday!
With this year's Leaving Cert results coming out tomorrow, it has me thinking back to 2 years ago when I was in the same position and worried about my future!
First of all, the Leaving Cert is very important but know that it is not the most important thing in the world!

Throughout 6th year I had it in my head that I was going to take a year out! I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I also wanted to make money before heading to college. I had my doubts at the start, but when I look back, it was so worthwhile!

I often get questions asking if taking a year out was a good decision - usually from people who are on the fence about it! All I can say is, if it is itching at you at all to take a year out - absolutely 100% do it!! If you think about it, 1 year is very short and goes very quickly. There is literally no harm in one year's break! You've been in school for like 15 years now, so if college isn't for you at the moment, that's totally normal!

So why should you take  a year out?

You're Unsure About Your Choices

Were you like me and filled out the CAO but knew deep down you hadn't a clue what you wanted to do or if that course would even suit you? You just did it because it's the done thing to do during 6th year! If you really don't know what you would like to do or if you're unsure about college, gap years are fantastic options. You could get work or experience in the field that interests you and see if it's for you? Trial and error will become your best friend in the next few years!

Don't follow your friends!!!

Year after year, people decide on a college or course based on what their friends are doing! Please don't let this be the sole reason why you choose a college! I know it's daunting but you should NEVER base any major life decisions on what your friends are doing! Fact of the matter is, they will still always be your friends but you have to learn to live independently! Plus, it's important to branch out and make new friends too - how else are you going to experience the world and experience other cultures! When you move on from the secondary school phase you will realise that essentially you rely on yourself for a lot of things!

Improve Something or Learn Something

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Often, people will take a gap year as a time to get better at something they already do - whether that is a talent, hobby, sport etc. It's finally a time where you have very little commitments. Use this time wisely to perfect that hobby or to immerse yourself in something new.
Get fit, join a club, audition for a musical.
Do the things you've always wanted to do but never really had time for. Set goals for the year ahead and enjoy it as you overcome challenges to reach that goal!

Make some €€€€€

Up until the now only jobs you've probably ever had were weekend jobs, part-time jobs or summer jobs and you blew all your wages on the sesh at the weekends or on Penneys etc. haha!
Other than that, I imagine your main source of income would have been your parents! 
One of the reasons why I really wanted to take a year out was to make some money OF MY OWN!
I lived rent free at home, food on the table, had my own job and made my own money which meant I could spend independently and began to be more careful with money as it was my own and it was hard earned! Then when you save up enough money, you can treat yourself. Was there a designer handbag you always wanted? Do you want to set yourself up with a car and get driving?
Chances are you probably couldn't afford it all if you went straight to college!


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Whether it's buying yourself a weekend  away in Kerry, or off for a week in the sun, or even exploring a new continent - this is your time! You can save up for the year by working hard and rewarding yourself with a holiday at the end of the year! I caught the travel bug last year and believe me when I say it's an incurable sickness!! Work hard and then play hard!

My Year Out

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With all of those reasons in mind, I'm going to tell you my story!
As I previously mentioned I had always planned on taking a year out of study after 6th year so it didn't come as a shock to me or anyone around me when I declined my CAO offer!

This wasn't going to be a year of laziness for me! I wanted to immerse myself in every single thing possible! I wanted to have the most jam-packed, exciting year of my life - But how would I do that? I started to plan plan plan.

What did I do?

I set up interviews and applied everywhere for jobs, and thankfully got one in a local ladies clothes shop! It couldn't have suited me more! Also, I thought I wouldn't go completely without education and auditioned to be in a part-time music course in BIMM Dublin! Surely enough I got accepted! So I worked in the shop during the week and got the train up to Dublin every Friday to attend my course!
This was fantastic because I had the best of both worlds. I was working in my first ever real job while also studying Vocals, which I loved!

I immersed myself.. in Everything!!

Well this would be typical of me anyway! I am such a dabbler and I'll turn my hand to most things and I'm not afraid to try new things! From the get-go, I was already looking for ways to improve myself and improve my blog. 
In September 2015, my friends all headed off to college, while I was heading off to London to be a part of Outbox Incubator. Because of my blog I was one of 200 girls across UK, Ireland and Europe to come and stay in a house in London with other girls interested in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Maths). I spent a week in a house in London with other amazing young women. It was a huge step in getting my blog off the ground and one of my first ventures as a blogger!
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It wasn't all easy sailing..

At first I found it so strange to be working and having actual adult responsibilities while I watched all my friends go out all the time and live the college lifestyle! I quickly pulled myself out of that nonsense though and realised the opportunity I had to have a really incredible year that I couldn't have if I was in full-time education! I knew my time would come.

Although it was probably one of the greatest years of my life, I also went through some of the roughest patches I've ever been through! Only for the fact that I was on a year out, I don't know what I would have done! I wouldn't have coped properly had I been in college!
Within the space of 2 months, I went through a break-up, my best friend died, and I found out that the shop I was working for was closing down!! It seemed to be just one thing after another! But they say that things come in 3's so I knew it actually couldn't have gotten worse! And thankfully it didn't. It was a rough start to 2017 and to be honest it probably took me about half the year to recover from.
The reason why it got better was because I forced the situation to get better. I couldn't just let myself fall into grief and pain forever.
I became selfish, in a good way. I began to do things for me! I would put my own feelings first before others for once. In the least cockiest way, I started to revolve my whole world around me and I built up my world. I bought myself nice things, I got my nails done every month, I bought the camera of my dreams.. AND I bought myself a holiday to New York!! (But we will get to that)

I fundraised for charity..

After much self-healing and lots of time, I decided to get out of my own bubble and give to others. I began a fundraiser for charity. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and raised over €5000 for the Irish Cancer Society! It was an incredible feeling giving to such a great cause and to see people in my parish being so supportive of the cause!
I did all my fundraisers throughout my year out and in October, only a few weeks into college, I summited Kilimanjaro with 20 other Irish people.
It was not only physically, but mentally excruciating. But the views, the craic, the people I met, the journey made it all worth it. And knowing at the back of it all that the charity would benefit! It was just a once in a lifetime achievement for me. My proudest moment to date!

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I travelled to New  York!!

I remember the day I booked the flights to New York. It was during the time that everything got really hectic/eventful and I just thought, I have to do this!!
My friend Philip was living there at the time, so I knew I had someone to stay with!
And so I did it. Aged 19, no regrets, on the plane to New York alone.
I knew I would love it, but I never realised that when I stepped on that Aer Lingus plane that my perspective on so many things would change forever.
I learned more about myself in those 3 weeks than in my whole life. It's such a powerful thing - spending time by yourself. Travelling halfway across the world by yourself. 
I walked the avenues of New York and went to all the sites, for most parts, alone. I had nobody to rely on, nobody to answer to. I could just be me in this big crazy city! For the first time in months I was really truly happy. I felt so free. I was so tiny in this huge city and I loved it. I loved the buzz. The people. The lights. It was everything I imagined New York would be, and it was exactly what I needed!
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I 100% caught the travel bug when I stepped on that plane and now I can not stop thinking about travelling the world and experiencing everything! 
The confidence, and the light and the strength that grew in me when I was in New York is still standing to me today, 14 months later. I will never forget what New York did for me. I genuinely believe I am a different person because of that trip.  I feel like I can do anything and go anywhere. It was unforgettable!

How did I turn out?

Honestly, taking a year out was the best decision I have ever made. I believe that timing is everything and everything happens for a reason.
I was soooo ready for college by the time it came around! I felt mature, capable and beyond excited to live in Cork city! I also got the time I needed to figure out what course I wanted to do, and where I wanted to go!
If you do take a year out, or even if you don't. Stop being afraid. Don't think that you're too young to travel. Don't feel like you can't push yourself to do all the things you dream of doing. Don't feel like you constantly have to have somebody by your side. You have GOT this!! Travel!! See the world! Meet new people! (There is truth in all those inspirational Insta quotes!)
Most importantly, begin to love yourself, cherish yourself. At the end of the day, the only person who you can guarantee to always be there for you is YOU!

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Best of luck to everyone getting your results tomorrow!
Much Love,
Clóda X


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