My dad is quite lenient. He never really set rules in our house. He bought our booze at 15 and was always happy when we came to him with a new idea. But when his only daughter, at 17-years-old came up to him and said,”I want to leave the country for an extended amount of time,” he was a little unsure. My Grandmother, on the other hand, is the more stern (cough-judgemental) member of the parenting team and she actually had fewer issues with the whole situation.
Whatever parenting type, I doubt anyone is 100% for your gap year. Either they’re going to miss you, they’re worried for your safety or they think it’s a waste of time. (note: between one family member or another, I had to deal with all of these).
So, here are some tips with the end goal of you being on your merry way and your parents being tolerably happy about it.
Be Serious- You should explain to whomever you’re trying to convince this is not you avoiding responsibility or adulthood. It’s you looking for it… in a alternative way.
Be Committed- Don’t let anyone see this as a passing phase. If this is something you seriously want to do, do it. Nothing irritates me more than being patronised, but it motivated me to prove people wrong.
Be Concrete- Show them your research or your savings and budgeting plan. Something they can hold and see.
Show Them A Gap Year Blog- websites like notgoingtouni.co.uk and gapyear.com are not only advertised at schools but they promote and help people who want to take alternative paths. They’re the go-to for FAQ’s and incredibly good at matching people to volunteer schemes or whatever it is you want to do.
Show Them Tangible Benefits- Did you know you’re 70% more likely to earn up to £2000 more post-uni if you have real life experience. 67% of employers said they prefer people who have taken a gap year. You’ll learn to be responsible, you’ll gain CV worthy skills. Argue with that, bitch.
Introduce Them To The 21st Century- turns out, you’ll probably miss them just as much as they miss you, and unless you’re staying at home for work or uni, you’re going to be moving away anyway. But the wonders of the internet make this easier. Teach them Skype, or FaceTime, set them up and insta account so they can see your photos, promise to blog about it…the list is endless. (I never recommend introducing family members to Facebook. My Grandmother comments on every-fucking-thing)
If They’re Worried You Won’t…- This one is for the people that think you’re going to be a bum your entire life. Or your dad that worries you’ll never come back and go to uni and how will you ever have financial security blah blah blah. Introduce them to the open university, to online courses and TEFL. I have a TEFL qualification, it was hard, but so worth it, and you can do it in a Starbucks in Sydney or a hut in Morocco. You can make careers out of volunteering. Also, there are a whole host of people who travel full-time and support themselves creatively, get your folks to check people like Corey and Emily.
My Only Other Advice- It helps you decide your life. This is the one that won my dad over. I explained that I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure, and was so unwilling to commit to £40,000 debt unless I was Romeo-Juliet committed. You’re going to learn lessons in airports and about taxes and laundry. You’re going to meet people and learn lessons from them. Also, I had to tell one worry-wart that walking to work is just as dangerous as trekking through a jungle.
Ultimately, you’re an adult. Ma and Pa aren’t going to approve of everything you do, but they’ll more-than-likely still love you to death. I’m living proof. Go.
p.s Malia freaking Obama is taking a gap year, it can’t be that atrocious for your life.