Why I Took 3 Years off Before University

3 years off

Why I Took 3 Years off Before University

Dreams as a Child

When I was a little girl, my biggest dream was to become a teacher. However, as I got a little older, my dream jobs changed like the seasons. I wanted to be a teacher, writer, actress, lawyer, vet, and the list goes on. When I entered high school, I was just as confused. I learned more about psychology and hair styling, which made me want to become a psychologist and hairstylist. What to choose?

Dreams in High School, Dashed

I didn’t have the best grades in high school, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enter the university I wanted for what I wanted. I happened to talk to my teacher’s assistant who gladly gave me information about the university in my city. I was so disappointed at all the requirements that you needed to get into psychology, education, and veterinary studies that I gave up my dream. On top of that, I went to many casting and modelling calls and never got picked for anything, not even an extra.


Even by the time I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was still sad that I couldn’t get into university with my marks (school never came easy to me and I had bad study habits), and I wanted to move out from my parents’ house to live on my own and experience life on my own. Without knowing what I wanted to do, I decided that I would just have to find a job to make some money until I could figure out what to do.

Second Job

I got my second job ever working at Hallmark. It was an easy job and I loved the couple that owned the store. I learned a lot about running a small business as well as responsibility. It was the first time that I had many responsibilities at my job. It was because of my manager that I learned how to count the float at the end of the night, make a deposit, organize the materials, keep track of what sold during the day, and open and close the store by myself. For an eighteen year old, it was a lot of responsibility, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Moving Out

I eventually moved out of my parents’ house and moved to Vernon, B.C. It was in Vernon that I really learned the stress of becoming an adult at a young age. I was still eighteen years old and had been a very sheltered young girl because of my traumatic experiences when I was younger. (Read about My Journey Through PTSD, Anxiety, and Panic Attacks Pt 1). I didn’t know anything about the major responsibilities that would fall on my own shoulders without my parents.

First Job in a New Province

I started working at Staples and it was enjoyable, at first. However, I had some issues with some of the people that worked there as well as that came into the store. The environment was completely different from what I was used to at Hallmark, so it was really hard for me to adjust.

Living Situation

My living situation was hell. I was used to a clean house because my mom is very clean and organized. Imagine my surprise when I started living with my new roommates and couldn’t see the floor. The TV was on at all hours of the day and loud. It was nearly impossible for me to sleep, there were bugs crawling in through the window at night, the apartment was a complete mess. To top it all off, I also lived close to the sewage treatment plant, so it smelled disgusting every time I walked by.

Paying Bills

I not only had messy roommates, but I also had to pay bills for the first time in my life. I understood what it meant to save money because I had bills. I had to pay rent and buy my own groceries as well as buy things for the apartment that I needed. Working at Staples wasn’t enough since I couldn’t go to full time with them at the time and they were cutting back my hours. I needed more money, so I decided I needed to get another job.

Two Jobs

I worked with a girl that had a second job at an Italian restaurant. She told me all about the people she worked with and made it sound like so much fun, so I handed in a resume. Thanks to her putting in a good word for me, I got the job. I started working there a week later. It was at this job that I learned how to have patience and work quickly. I loved working there so much that I eventually quit my job at Staples and worked at the restaurant in the evenings. Eventually, I worked in the mornings for a while for a change and it was here that I discovered what I wanted to do.

My Birthday Present

Since I was working a lot and making decent money in tips, I decided to treat myself for my birthday a year later. I went to the local hair school there and pampered myself. It was there that I talked to the girl about how she liked being a stylist and what the school was like. I really enjoyed watching her cut my hair and the other girl doing my nails and that’s when I decided that I wanted to become a hairstylist.

Six Months Later…

I started at the same school in the fall with some other girls. We got all our necessities on the first day, including the huge book that we needed to study. Imagine my surprise when I learned that we would have to learn about parts of the body inside and out. We also had tests every week and they weren’t exactly easy. However, I wanted to be a stylist so badly that I immediately went home and studied my butt off. It was because of hair school that I learned how to study properly, and had the satisfaction of getting the highest marks in my group.

Opening Up

At hair school, I had to talk to my clients as well as the other students in the school. I was really shy in those days because of my past, but there were two girls in particular that I eventually opened up to. It was because of these two girls that I learned what it was like to have true friends and it was because of one girl in particular that I learned that it was okay to be myself, no matter what my own personality was actually like.


After I graduated, I moved back to Alberta to live with my parents. Hair school wasn’t cheap and I was still working my job after school. Living on my own was tough, and I missed home and my parents. I said goodbye to my new friends and headed back home. I found a job at a local salon and apprenticed. My hair styling license was for B.C so I had to do a test to get my red seal. I worked my butt off and had fun in the process. I had the nicest boss ever and learned so much from her when it came to hair and waxing.

Health Happens

Unfortunately, a few months after I received my red seal, my wrist started to hurt I went to the doctor and he told me that I had tendinitis. He also told me that it wasn’t going to get better but worse if I kept doing the same repetitive movements. I also developed the most painful headaches I have ever had, tension headaches. These health concerns had me stressed about what I was going to do with my future. It was because of my love for anime and Japan that I was talking to a client about it and he recommended teaching English in Japan. I had never thought of that before, but it sounded like a lot of fun!


I looked into what I needed to do in order to teach English in Japan. The best decision I ever made was taking two years off before university. Sure, I’m not a hairstylist anymore, but I’m still qualified to work in any province and I cut my own hair from time to time as well as my friends’ hair when they need it. Now, because they considered me an “adult” in my twenties, I could upgrade a second language, science, or math. Of course, I went for the second language, which was Japanese. Everything was working out in my favor; I was even able to transfer from the college I started out in to the university, my dream university!


After I started college, I quit my hair styling job and landed a job working for one of my clients. I cut his hair before and when I applied for the job, he pretty much hired me on the spot. I worked at that pharmacy for over three years and worked up from a cashier to a supervisor, I even helped out in the pharmacy from time to time as a “replacement tech.” That was a lot of fun because it gave me more hours and more experience in something different. I also trained in the Post Office, so I was able to cover their breaks in the evenings.

Work and School

I worked my butt off and saved every penny I made. I barely went out at all when I was in college or even in university for that matter. I was able to save enough money to pay for my college and university tuition as well as live comfortably off my own money when I moved out again. I worked a seasonal job at the Bay to make some more money and I saved that money to help with groceries, help with my sick dog, and pay rent. My study habits from hair school really  helped me out here. I was able to get top marks in Psychology because of my study habits. I was also able to graduate from university with a Bachelor Degree in English Literature and pass my Geology class. I also studied East Asian History, Japanese, and Music despite many tearful and stressful nights.


I had some bad experiences in university again that triggered my anxiety and panic attacks, and to make things worse, I developed PTSD because of something that happened in university. All of these bad experiences taught me a lot about myself and the people that I had chosen to surround myself with.I also finally opened my eyes and met the love of my life, although I didn’t know it at the time since he was only my best friend.


Things fell into place for me and I was really lucky. I think that taking a year or two off after high school is important for teenagers because they need to experience what life really is. Not only that, but as a teenager, you’re still trying to figure out who you are as a person. You have so much room for growth and it’s only when you are out in the real world that you can truly begin to understand things about yourself. You also have experiences that help shape your future.

I didn’t travel like most people, but I lived in a different part of Canada. It made me appreciate my parents even more, especially my mom. My mom and I always fought when I lived at home as a teenager. After I moved out, I realized  how much my parents did for me. We were able to build a much stronger relationship because of this as well.

What I Learned from University

There were many times that I felt like giving up. The desire to get a degree and move to Japan was strong enough that I fought the urge to quit. I kept moving forward even when certain people told me I would fail. I kept going just to prove them wrong. Coming from someone who usually gives up easily, this was a huge feat for me. All my experiences before and in university taught me so much about myself and other people. I feel like I finally know who I am. It took a long time, but I finally discovered who I really am. When it comes to work, I know what I want now. That’s all thanks to my experiences after university.

Wait, What about Japan?

That’s a long story that I might talk about at a later time! Stay tuned!


Leave a Reply