There’s this feeling of liberation once you finish a stage in your life. For me, the most defining one so far has been finishing high school, and (unexpectedly) taking a gap year after that. That feeling of liberation was met with a sense of fear, mixed emotions, uncertainty, excitement, confusion, and so on.

The best thing that I learned after finishing school is that there is a life outside school that I never believe existed. My life revolved around school, and as many activities as I was involved in outside school, my schedule worked around the school year. It defined my life, and I let it define me.

I recently read a book called How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims after watching her incredibly inspiring TED Talk on raising successful kids. Though Julie’s intended audience was primarily the parents of today’s generation, her words spoke to me on so many levels. A former Stanford dean, Julie used her experience in the ‘elite’ system to talk about how more of us are having this increasing fixation with getting our children into the Ivy Leagues (or equals), and how we are devoting all of our time to achieve those dreams.

Her purpose in the TED talk and book is to encourage parents and children to take control of their own lives, instead of letting elite institutions and the hopes of achieving the ‘impossible’ define how they live their life. I was part of this ‘rat race’, and though I learned so much from investing my time into academics and extracurriculars, I didn’t invest time in getting to know myself. We tend to believe that only the subjects and activities that go in our resume are the only things that matter “until you get into a good college”, but that’s just a load of baloney. Because once someone takes away your resume, you are left with nothing but your bare skin and soul.

Personally, my main issue while being at school was depending too much on that fixed system. Believing in it too much, instead of questioning it and designing my own path. Our entire lives is an educational experience, and we shouldn’t rely on any physical means to guide ourselves. That guide should be within us, and we should be able to find it regardless of where we are.

Still in my bridge year, I find my future steps very unpredictable and uncertain. I choose to not rely on anyone (e.g. my parents) to make my decisions, but rather consult with them when it’s necessary. I oftentimes find myself scared and fearful, but I also finally feel the sense of independence that I never had whilst at school. I finally feel like I’m living a life that I have designed for myself and no one else.

Misty Prose