My gap year didn’t go as planned, and I feel like a waste of space

I interviewed for and won a PhD place, travelled with my partner and worked in a call centre, but I wake up with suicidal thoughts and regret it all

I feel I have wasted my gap year. After a master’s and an internship, I decided to take a year out before a PhD. I had planned three months’ volunteering abroad, but complications with my partner meant this didn’t happen. This led to resentment, and I developed anxiety about my career and social life. I ended up taking a temporary job in a call centre just to get myself out of my head. I spent the next two months interviewing for PhDs, and was thankfully successful in one. I then went travelling with my boyfriend for three months, much of which was spent resolving our issues. I now have a couple of months before my PhD, but cannot help but feel I am wasting time and space on earth. I wake up in the night with suicidal thoughts, thinking that I am not good enough and manically apply for more jobs I don’t want. Developmentally, this year has been hugely beneficial to my relationship, my ideas about a career and just generally understanding myself. However, I still have regrets and anxiety looking back at it, and I can’t let go of what others might think about my gap year.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this piece, please contact Samaritans

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Alex Vidal