Not every successful or famous person took a gap year between high school and college, but it’s encouraging to see how many celebrities did. Not surprisingly, many who achieved their dreams are the same people who took time to actually think about what those dreams could and should be.
High school graduates are more effective in their lives and careers when they first explore and pursue a wide variety of skills while taking a gap year. A gap year isn’t a vacation from real life. Far from it. Gapping is about developing such a diverse outlook that the future seems to jump right off the page.
These famous folks took a gap year to develop perspective on the real world and discover the talents and skills they possessed:
For a guy who plays the shockingly self-involved Sherlock Holmes on TV, Benedict Cumberbatch seems centered and compassionate in real life. He spent his gap year in India, teaching English at a monastery in Tibet.
The famously cerebral Cumberbatch would likely have been just as intellectual and emotional regardless of his gap year, but his time in Darjeeling undoubtedly played a key role in his adult life. Spending significant time helping others in one of the world’s poorest countries can’t help but provide excellent perspective on your place in the 21st century.
The beloved British author who gave us Harry Potter has benefited from a fascinating life that includes two breaks many would categorize as gap years.
First Rowling went from college to working as a researcher for Amnesty International, championing human rights and learning about the evil (and greater good) in life.
Later, on the heels of her mother’s death, she took the beginnings of her Harry Potter books to Portugal, where she began teaching English. It was during this time abroad that she wrote her self-described favorite chapter in “Sorcerer’s Stone” and gave birth to her daughter.
Not exactly traditional gap years, but they were likely big components of Rowling’s highly successful life.
On screen, this Hollywood fan favorite has portrayed everyone from Wolverine in the X-Men movies to Jean ValJean in Les Miserables. Before he became known for his acting chops and knack for song and dance, he took a gap year in England. Jackman was a teaching assistant at Uppingham School.
His time off makes sense today, given his reputation as a grounded, well-rounded Hollywood professional.
What if more people heeded the success stories of celebrities like Cumberbatch, Rowling and Jackman? What if gap years became a priority throughout the world?
A gap year is certainly not the end-all, be-all solution to educational challenges or career-related goals. However, for many, a gap year provides a significant source of life lessons that will carry on for decades.