By Katie Sill, columnist

This time last year, I found myself in a peculiar situation. I had built a comfortable life during my time at Illinois Wesleyan University, and I wasn’t quite ready to let go. I was set to graduate in December 2012 after my double major forced me to overflow into a ninth semester.

Even though I had “more time” to figure things out, I still felt the pressure of answering the questions that plague all senior college students: “What are you going to do after graduation?”

With a double major in Creative Writing and Asian Studies, my career path wasn’t as clear cut as, say, a nursing or music education student.

And despite multiple trips to the Hart Career Center, I was still at a loss. This was no fault of the Hart Career Center staff. After all, how could they help me find my way when I didn’t have anywhere to go?

Every day I would wake up and “try on” a new future. “I’m going to be a professional writer,” I would say one day. Then, after a week of pondering the future prospects of a professional writer, I would change my mind. A lawyer. A teacher. A diplomat. The list went on and on, but I was no closer to figuring things out.

I watched all my friends graduate in May and face life head on. Some had jobs already lined up and others were plunging into the unknown. Before I knew it, I was next in line. The prospect terrified me.

I decided to take a leave of absence for the fall semester of 2012. My decision was largely based on family issues that came up which would have distracted me while I was away at school.

But, in doing so I gave myself time to evaluate my goals. I asked myself: “What do I want out of life,” “Where do I want to be in ten years” and “How do I get there?”

The time I spent away from campus gave me a better perspective on life and the world outside academia. I was able to research and apply for graduate programs without the pressure of homework due dates.

I understand that not all students can afford to take time off from school. I’m also aware that what was best for me may not apply to everyone. But for those students, like me, who lack direction, taking a step back and reassessing life might be a viable option.

After my leave of absence, I returned to campus with a renewed sense of direction. Upon graduation in May, I will be attending graduate school for a Master’s in International Studies. From there, who knows? But I’m more comfortable and confident in the adventures life is bound to offer me.