Sunday, 25 March 2012

chancing it

Next summer will be the summer after my graduation.

And I have no idea what I will be doing. During the summer or after it. My plans extend to the evening of next Monday, when I complete my exams. 

After that, all bets are off. 

You see, I wasn't accepted to the universities I applied to last autumn. (Admittedly, they were highly prestigious and I always knew a Finnish diploma wouldn't be an easy sell. And my course choice could have been better suited for what I actually want to do. And I could have focused more on my application. And so on and so on. And yet.) 

There have been tears and teeth gritted together too tightly for a whisper to fit in between. 

But I think I'll be fine. I really do. This is the first time I've ever truly fucked something up, the first time I've failed to get what I want. All the schools I've so far wanted to go to, I have. All the exam grades I've so far wanted to achieve, I've achieved. And I'm nineteen. It's about time. 

(The greatest thing I've learnt during the past few weeks is this: I would not choose to live a different life from my own right now. Despite the disappointments and the fear and the shame. I want to survive this, if only to show myself that I can.) 

So, a gap year. 

Maybe I'll stay in Helsinki for a while. Get a place of my own, a toehold on adulthood, with a rent and bills to pay and hopefully a housemate with kind eyes. 

Maybe I'll move to Paris for a year, which is funnily enough what my mother did after she finished school. I never thought I'd follow in her footsteps, but it doesn't sound too shabby. 

Maybe I'll say Fuck It and go backpacking in India. Or on a kibbutz in Israel. Or on any other kind of predictable gap year activity. 

This is the first time I have had the possibility to do with my life whatever I want to. Which is scary and exhilarating and lonely and also insanely hopeful. 

And first there is a summer. I hope to spend some of it working. Maybe travel. Go to some festivals. Love my friends more than I ever can in the winter, because that's what summer makes me do. 

I'll keep my head above the surface, whatever I do. 


  1. Adulthood scares me too. I've applied to TEAK but I'm in no hurry. I won't even graduate this spring. But still, the fact that everyone else is graduating and going on in their lives makes me want to panic too and get my own apartment and roommate and relationship and a job and bills to pay.

    I'm a mess.

  2. A year off can be a wonderful thing! Embrace it. Where ever you end up, I know it will be a grand adventure. And when you DO go away to a university, you'll be more prepared (and maybe have some of your thirst for freedom satisfied, which will help you focus on your studies). I've learned that when life slams a door, it's usually so you'll keep walking until you wind up where you're meant to be. Hang in there!

  3. I have the apartment with the rent and bills... far from glamorous, and I don't feel even remotely "adult." I spend my years as a graduate student dreaming of a gap year and the glory of open possibilities. Remember that (as incredibly cliché-ed as it is) the grass is always greener on the other side, and having gratitude for where you are is the biggest challenge, but also the greatest gift.

  4. It - future and everything - scares me really too. But not going to university right this year is maybe the best thing that could happen to you - imagine going from school directly to university and then to work life! I've been planning a gap year anyway - I'm graduating this June - and I'll apply to some voluntary work somewhere on the planet ;) And then... well, as you said "all bets are off", but maybe that's great too. It's just life, after all, right? ^^
    I wish you all the best and I'm sure you'll find what's right for you!

  5. Thank you all so much for your encouragement and advice - I really need it right now!

  6. Kaunis postaus, oon niin ylpeä susta :)

  7. Reading what you wrote reminded me of the dragging days and nights of mine a few years ago. Not exactly the same story but to sum up: British universities, dreams, what-I-could-have-got-in and what-I-always-wanted-to-get-in.

    I guess there are things you would have to consider. Financial problems in the gap year. A new direction. Choices on how to spend your time wisely. I see that you are one of the smartest and inspirational people on the Internet that I have come across, and I have faith that you would work it out eventually for yourself.

    Just 50p from a stranger, who loved your posts, who used to write, and who used to have the same thoughts. Please juggle all the alternatives, maximise your Experience book for the year to come, put 80% of your efforts in things that will get you closer to your dream, 20% (fully) for the things you consider as a back-up (but will eventually get you to your dreams).

    Trust me, one day you will enter university/life/workplace or just a pub and walk out of conversations. Right at that moment, you would feel so glad that what that simple gap year could do for you.

    :) Smile, everything will be brighter!

  8. Thank you so much for your comment! I'm feeling more and more positive about a gap year, what with all this encouragement. (Although it is still quite a wrench.)