Great Gap Year Myth #3: “It’s For the Unmotivated and Unsure.”

Great Gap Year Myths.005

Meet guest blogger, Catherine Haseman, class of 2016, with her perspective on Myth #3: “It’s For the Unmotivated and Unsure.”

I chose to write about this “Gap Year Myth” because it is not as cut and dry as some of the others. For most of the other myths in this blog series, I could argue that they are entirely false. I could tell one simple story and prove that gap years are not ____(insert myth here)___. 

But this “myth” is a little more complicated. 

I cannot truthfully start this blog post out by saying, “In fact, gap years are for the absolutely certain and the highly motivated!” 

So, instead, I will start with this: gap years are for students seeking certainty and motivation. 

When I made the decision to take a year away from the classroom, I had just finished my freshman year of college. I completed my first year of undergraduate studies as a computer science major in the school of engineering at my university. Overall, I had a good freshman year—I had made good friends, fun memories, and great grades. Despite all of that, when I stopped to think deeply about my college experience, I realized several things:

I was unsure about my major.

I was unsure about what career path I hoped to take in the future. 

I was unmotivated to continue on through college without a better sense of direction.

Ultimately, my uncertainty about my academic and career paths is what led me to feel so certain that the Kivu Gap Year was the right choice for me at the time. 

The gap year took me to Colorado, Washington DC, the Bahamas, Peru, Rwanda, and Palestine. In each place I was challenged—through conversation, friendship, prayer—to consider how my past has shaped me and what I am meant to do with my unique gifts and quirks. More often than not, my experiences throughout the year caused me to feel more confused than certain at first. 

My internships caused me to question what future career I am best suited for. My homestay experiences made me question how families are meant to function. Conversations with diverse friends challenged my worldview. Weekend trips made me wonder about the value of a home. Seemingly everything I did throughout my gap year raised more and more questions.

It wasn’t until I arrived in Palestine—my final gap year destination—that I found the certainty and motivation I had been searching for all year long.

I lived with a rambunctious, deeply caring Palestinian family on the outskirts of Bethlehem. From their living room window I could see a refugee camp to my right and the Church of the Nativity to my left. Quite the juxtaposition! In no time, life in the West Bank transformed my geopolitical perspectives, emboldened and developed my personal politics, and softened my heart to marginalized groups. I began taking Arabic courses and reading as much as I could about the Middle East. I was fascinated! I had found a cause and a people that motivate me to work hard and live fully. 

When I returned to my university this fall, I changed my major to Arabic and Middle East studies. After an entire year of seeking certainty and motivation, I found it.

Nowadays, when I sit down to study for Arabic quizzes or political science exams, I am reminded of why I chose my major. I think back to my friends and family on the other side of the planet, and I am inspired to work hard and live with purpose. So, no. Gap years are not for the “unsure” and the “unmotivated”.

But they are absolutely for those seeking certainty and motivation in all facets of life. 

Facebook:  Catherine Haseman

Email:  catherine_haseman@baylor.edu

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