Lately I have found myself taking more time than normal to reflect on my experiences and opportunities. I do not know if this has been prompted by the mixed feelings I have as the current Year 12 students graduate (I am sad they are leaving, but excited for their future), or because I have recently had my 30 year school reunion.

I have begun to reflect on how busy our lives have become and the importance of making time for each other. I am thinking about the importance of networking, failing and times when my experiences have pushed me out of my comfort zone.

When I graduated, I spent time overseas, travelling and exploring Europe. As an independent traveller, I learnt a lot about myself. On many occasions I found myself alone and needing to break into conversations with new people. Breaking out of one’s comfort zone and being courageous, does not come naturally to most of us, especially at a young age.

Meeting with some past graduates at the recent 2013 SCOGA reunion, I noted many of the ladies had fabulous stories to share with one another. These ladies spoke about their journey whether studying, travelling or working. A number of girls had taken a gap year at the conclusion of Year 12 or taken a break during their tertiary studies to explore the world. In doing so, they felt that this had helped them to learn more about themselves and to personally grow and develop. They felt this allowed them to gain further independence, which also brought courage, confidence and vision.

In speaking with a current Year 12 parent recently, she drew my attention to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. In this article it talks about the advantage of taking a gap year. How doing so, can aid in the development of resilience, provide young people with more of an understanding of the real world and interactions with real people. School and school communities are often in operation with like-folks and so graduates are not always exposed to the broad scope of possibilities and perspectives the world has to offer. The article speaks about how during a gap placement, one is more likely to experience failures, where they will not have anyone right there to help ‘fix’ things for them, but instead having to navigate their way through these challenges. Young people are also exposed to time and money pressures that they must work through rather than relying on parents to provide immediate assistance or solutions.

I recently told a Year 12 graduate to make the most of being a student because when you begin working there may not be as much time to stop and take a break when you want to. I encouraged her to take time to learn, experience and flourish, but to understand, that failures are a normal part of life. They are not to be viewed as a negative, but rather a platform to grow and develop.

Further reading:

Mrs Pauline Van Der Poel, Director of Planning and Organisation/Careers Practitioner