In this series titled tête-à-tête, we have conversations with people working towards realizing their passions on various topics that range from lifestyle, culture, and self-growth to art, entertainment, and social change.
In this article, we spoke to Beatrice Naujalyte aka. The Bliss Bean, a Wisconsin-based Content Creator who features content revolving around self-improvement, minimalism, and mindfulness on her Youtube Channel. Ms. Naujayte also hosts a podcast titled The Bliss Bean Show and has a weekly newsletter with over 15k subscribers.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to reverberate in the world, students (especially recent graduates) are at the threshold of making some difficult choices- should they continue pursuing their graduate studies in what seems to be a chaotic academic year or opt for a Gap Year. While taking a Gap Year has traditionally been frowned upon in India, most recent graduates have been left with no choice but to take a gap year or adapt to online education. To help students make the most out of this time, we decided to speak to Beatrice Naujalyte, a Wisconsin-based Content Creator who features content revolving around self-improvement, minimalism, and mindfulness.
As a fellow student, Beatrice decided to take a Gap Year on completing high-school. She describes it as an experience where there is so much to be gained. Being an advocate of taking some much needed time to re-evaluate and reassess goals, we asked Beatrice to share her insights and views on taking a gap year.
If you are someone who has voluntarily decided to take some time off or had no other choice but to take this year off, Beatrice offers some needed respite to college students and recent graduates by offering us her perspective on taking a gap year and how it can help you engage in some much needed self-exploration and discovery to help you accomplish your long-term goals.
When asked about her views on the same, she opines that gap years present the perfect opportunity for individuals to deep-dive and engage in some much-needed exploration and self-discovery before entering the next stage of life. “It’s one of the rare pauses in life with very few responsibilities and commitments to tie you down,” she says. Taking a gap year allowed Beatrice to devote more time and energy to projects she started whilst still in high school- freelance photography and growing her YouTube Channel.
“As a student, you can use a gap year to work and save up money for college, explore internships, pick up new skills or languages, start your personal project,” she adds. “I felt comfortable making this decision because I was not in a rush to get my degree or start my career. I felt confident that the results of my gap year could only boost my application once I decided to enroll in college.”
GAP YEAR: THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING AND RESEARCH
While taking a Gap Year and its lack of routinized structures can prove to be a daunting experience for some, it can also be a time for you to be efficient and productive. Structure and planning are crucial when you take a gap year. Creating personal routines during this period can help you achieve your goals, even though they changed with time. Beatrice cautions that the person need not disregard all spontaneity but have a rough idea of the goals you wish to accomplish in the long-run. She contends that making plans at the start of each day and each week will aid you in allocating appropriate time to help you realize your goals.
Taking a gap year to engage in self-discovery also arrives with the mounting pressure to ‘stay productive’ even during these times. There might be external pressure to take up an internship or start a business venture and come out of this phase being the very best version of ourselves. Beatrice reminds us that “at the end of the day, the gap year is for you. Go for the projects that genuinely excite you, even if others have doubts. If you feel like there’s too much you want to do, understand that this is just one year of your life and you will have plenty of time to get around to doing other things.”
Gap years are not all about pushing through to accomplish personal/professional goals. Rather, they offer an individual some much needed time to slow down. As perfectly encapsulated by Beatrice, “It’s a chance to slow down between the busy years of high-school and college.” She speaks of how it allowed her to reconnect with family and confront parts of herself that she set aside due to her busy schedule in high-school.
TAKING A GAP YEAR: DEALING WITH CRITICISM
Gap years can also cause certain apprehension as reactions from parents and friends can fall on a spectrum- ranging from supportive to disapproving. When asked about the same, she recounts that, “I was super lucky to have parents who grew up where gap years are very commonplace and therefore encouraged me to take a year off. My friends and teachers were all supportive.” The only challenge she faced was inquisitive questions asking her about her plans on spending her gap year. As a reply, Beatrice said, “I was intentionally keeping my options open and never had much of a satisfying answer for them.”
We understand that some of the popular gap year options such as traveling or volunteering abroad are not viable choices this year. Being a student herself, Beatrice finds herself in the same boat as the rest of us as she has deferred another year due to COVID-19. She reminds us that, “You’re not in this alone. There are so many students taking a gap year to figure out what they do from home.” She suggests getting in touch with friends, family, teachers, school/college counselors who will aid you in exploring potential avenues. You could take the time to explore remote internships, volunteer openings based on the COVID-19 restrictions in your city, etc.
In addition to this, she asks us to be willing to explore and create opportunities for ourselves. The internet can serve as a wonderful resource for you to pick up a new skill, pick up a programming language, start your own blog, write about things you are passionate about and so on. At the same time, a gap year isn’t all about hustling and working on side-projects. It also is a very unique opportunity to connect with yourself and your family, make sure to carve out time for yourself too!
Lastly, Beatrice opines that being kind to yourself overrides everything else. She says, “this is a situation that none of us have had to deal with before and it is completely normal to be struggling.” As someone who tends to pressure herself to stay as efficient as possible and hustle, a good mantra for her has been to “accept ‘good enough’ as her new standard for the time being.”
You can check out Beatrice’s channel ‘The Bliss Bean’ on YouTube that features an extensive list of videos covering several topics related to taking a gap year.
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