50 Stories: Something risky

50 Stories: Something risky Cover Image

"I was a Time For God volunteer at Carroty Wood in Tonbridge, Kent,in 1985 for five months. It was a conference centre for Christian groups and school groups.

I wanted to do a gap year because I had spent quite a long time in education. I had been working hard for A-level exams. I felt needed to have a break from academic work.

I learned to make my own decisions away from home about ways to use my time and money. I lived with a host family, so it was a helpful transition between living at home and university.

My daughter Lydia is now at the same point in her life. She’s considering a gap year. My wish for Lydia is that she would be in a secure environment away from home where she could develop more of her adult self, and learn how to be self-sufficient and make her own decisions. She is a different person from me, so what she decides to do with that time will also be quite different.

When I decided to do a gap year, I wasn’t aware of anyone else I knew doing anything particularly structured, like I was. I was pleased to literally have a gap between sixth form and university. I was quite happy to not fit in with what other people were doing.

I understand that some people today might feel worried about taking a gap year when other people around them might be going onto university or other jobs.

I would see it as an opportunity to do something different, something risky, something that might not pay well. Once you start earning money after university it’s very hard to detach yourself from that. Take the opportunity before you start getting into the commitments of house, car, and family. Do something that is not driven by money, or even by what you might want to do in the future, but something that has value in its own right, something that is beneficial to other people and something which may give you a different perspective on life.

This time is the most free and flexible time of your life, therefore it’s great to seize the opportunity."


This post is part of '50 Stories,' a year-long series of personal accounts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Time For God.