In defence of people at King’s who took a gap year

Did I ever tell you I went travelling?

Oh, the great gap year question: how it still divides us. Why is it still as socially acceptable to laugh at people who did gap years as it is cat videos or Donald Trump?

Well, we have some big news for you – gap year people do not deserve your ridicule. The reason you give them stick is you’ve actually been duped by a giant, King(’s)-sized fallacy that’s hiding in plain sight.

The truth is, rage against the gap year is completely stupid and illogical, and after reading this you will be free from its clutches at last. You’ve all been there, you people who went straight to uni: the unspeakably cold, sinking feeling you get when someone starts talking about their gap year. It shouldn’t be wished on anyone.

Genuinely losing herself

Let’s name the gap year stereotype Liv. Picture the scene: you’re at a fairly pleasant house party and she collars you outside and mentions her “year out” (Did the cult leaders make a group decision to ditch “Gap Year” a while back?) Liv stares at you, eyeballs ablaze with that sinister Year Out lovelight. She says her Year was the experience of a lifetime, and she’s come to realise travelling is the only thing that truly makes us richer. Then the punchline: “Like, I know it sounds so cliché, but I genuinely had to lose myself to find myself.”

You stand there in misery hoping your mate will appear or the fire alarm will go off. “Did you know,” she continues, “not all those who wander are lost?” You scan like a cornered gazelle for an escape route but you’re not quick enough and she pounces. She starts unleashing the anecdotes – and your darkest fears are realised.

What free spirits

I’m not interested, Liv, you inwardly scream, as she launches into the one about that maaad time she tripped shrooms in Laos and thought she was a tuna. Oh, your top is hand-woven by a Bedouin tribesman who also read your palm, is it? I do not care, love, I only said it was nice because you lent me a lighter. And some French DJ off your ski season “just totally understood” you, did he, “flaws and all”? … Brilliant, good for him. But where the fuck is he now when I need him?

The problems people have with this character are:

1) For all her Travels, her worldview seems only a marginal improvement on the ludicrously sheltered one she learnt at her nice boarding school.

2) The practical effectiveness of all the volunteer work she did is dubious. You made some bricks out of “straw, mud and actual dung”, Liv? Wow. Thank God you were there.


3) “Find ourselves?” Liv is not the Dalai Lama. Liv can therefore frankly jog on. The only real difference you can see between your journey to self-discovery and hers is that you’re a year ahead in your degree.

Just go away Liv

But here comes the plot twist. I can now reveal the secret truth: the truth is, “Liv” does not exist.

She is not real. Liv is an illusion arisen from exaggerations amassed in one distorted monster of shitness which is often projected onto anyone at King’s who says they’ve been travelling. The simple fact is there is no-one here as ridiculous as Liv.

Nice right?

The notion of Liv, the vacuous idiot, is false stereotyping. It’s a figment of confused imagination, with little basis in reality: exorcise her now, and stop tarring us all with this fictional brush.

Separate the real-life gap year goers from the prejudice and you’ll find curious, dynamic people who have a non-cynical appreciation for the world, and an eagerness to explore it.