“Real life” lacks the support system that Deerfield provides. There are no advisors to help you choose your schedule out there, and the large majority of people you encounter throughout the day will have no vested interest in your future success.
This may seem a little obvious–of course, people in the working world will be busily rushing along worrying about their own business–but I think it’s important to emphasize the difference between the Deerfield Bubble and what lies beyond.
At DA, the entire faculty knows your name, and wants you to sign up in time for the right winter extra-curricular activity; in the workplace you kind of have to fend for yourself.
Outside of DA there is very little structure to your day. A typical day at Deerfield for me was very structured: class, sports, sit down, homework, chill, sleep. Now, other than work, I literally have no requirements.
The “Real World” has been a lesson in learning to create my own structure. I have a pretty tight schedule now with a lot of commitments that I’m not going to get APs for if I skip, so it’s up to me to make my day productive or not. If you want to reach whatever goals you’ve set for yourself, you have to practice self-discipline.
Finally, the outside world is kind of isolating. I live in a city. I see thousands of people every day. However, few of these people show much interest in each other. No one is going to creepily know your name before you meet them (Ms. Creagh, whattup?), although sometimes I wish they would.
If you want to get to know someone, you have to go out of your way to talk to them. Learning to put myself out there was one of the first things I’ve had to learn.
So far, the gap year has been a lesson in independence and self-reliance. I’m definitely pretty happy with it. However, I won’t deny that I miss sit-down dinner.