I Took A Semester Leave from University and It’s The Best Decision Ever

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I only had 2 more papers left in the whole semester before I decided I had enough. I was nearing a mental breakdown and the pain was too much to explain to my peers and family. I used to be a go-getter and the cream of the crop throughout my academic life, I thought to myself, but look at what I have gotten myself into.

Loser. Yes, I felt like a loser who lost track of herself, all my dreams and motivations down the drain. This may sound like I was being overly dramatic, but I am sure that any other analogies would not do the horrible feeling I had about my own worth justice.

The day when I broke down and cried while talking to my parents still felt real like it just happened yesterday. Being the good and supportive parents they are, they drove down the next day and brought me out for lunch. The entire car ride was silent and suffocating.

No one even dared to breathe until my mom popped the question, “What is your next move?”

What is my next move? This was the very first time I felt completely speechless.

After pondering for a while, I realized that I do not have an answer because I am unsure of what I should do. I didn’t want to withdraw from my university because my parents did their best to support my education. Walking away completely would directly bruise my pride as I would leave behind all my past credentials and hard work to get this far.

The only option left? Taking a semester off from my university to get myself sorted out and then hit the road again once I am ready.

What if I told you that taking a semester off from my university was the most adventurous and enriching part of my life? It’s true. I was never an adventurous soul. I am never one to ever step out of my comfort zone despite how much I desire to. Often I find myself envying those who constantly stray from the norms and never allow anyone to dictate their path. It’s really refreshing to be able to go with your heart and it takes a lot of courage and inner strength to do.

I am currently interning as a technical writer in a software solutions company which allows me to realize where my passion lies and the type of environment best suited for my learning and growth. I get the chance to put myself first, get my priorities right and re-evaluate myself properly.

When you constantly juggle with attending lecture classes, tackling endless assignments and handling group projects, you would eventually lose track of yourself and what it is really important: your current state of mind. No matter how stressful education can get, you should not consistently feel that you are on the verge on a mental breakdown.

Taking a break does not mean the same thing as escaping or running away from your problems, though many people would say so. I have received countless comments about how I should not take a break and instead just suck it up. However, those commenters forget that everyone’s situation varies in ways they might never understand. I’ve stuck with my own decision and tried not to let these uninformed opinions affect me.

In all honesty, though, one opinion from one of my bosses did get to me. Ultimately though, I took the comment as a challenge. I faced a hard time in my company initially due to the lack of experience and technical knowledge. I was even chided once, “Are you sure you didn’t learn all those in Uni?” It hit me hard that I may not be as adequate as I originally perceived and in their eyes. I was not fulfilling expectations. That comment criticized me most where I would have criticized myself.

However, I remember all my motivations and intended outcomes from this internship. If I want to get anything done, I need to keep pushing forward and against all odds, without second guessing myself. Would I ever regret this decision? Definitely not. I would choose this route all over again.

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