After 12 years of School, you’ve actually worked hard enough. So you better reward yourself with a well-deserved break. That’s what my 18-year-old “me” definitely thought, and honestly, my 25-year-old “me” still thinks that today. 

So I decided to do “nothing” after school. Others went to Australia for work and travel, some did a voluntary social year, others started some kind of training or study. But I didn’t do anything. Partly to rebel against the state and my parents, but definitely also because the appalling range of options, was just too overwhelming. 

I lay in my bed day in and day out, watching series and eating a lot out of boredom. That went on until I myself really started to get on my nerves. A very important experience in retrospect, that I would recommend everyone. It was my first contact with the famous exclusion principle. I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet, but “nothing” was definitely not an option. 

So I started – this time in my own initiative – to think about, how my live should go on. It should be something big. And it had to be worth it. With this resolution, as an 18-year-old white, blonde girl, I decided to do voluntary service as a midwife in Ghana for a few months. In retrospect, self-discovery could have been approached more gently, but there I was. Africa was, different than expected, a complete sensory overload. The smells, the volume, the sun, the food and the mentality of the people. Everything was more extreme, than I was used to. After a few weeks of “I can’t do this, I’ll fly back home”, I had one of the most groundbreaking and most important realizations of my life. 

I realized, that it was all in my hand. It’s like the story with the hot stove…some experiences we have to make ourselves. Then I turned my life in Africa inside out and it became one of the best times of my life. In retrospect I would say, that the gap year developed my personality more, that any other apprenticeship could ever have. I can only recommend to everyone, thar “doing nothing” is a good start. 

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet, but “nothing” was definitely not an option.”

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Small Changes Yield Big Results

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