Gartlandia – Gap Year

In an exclusive column, dublin born singer/songwriter Orla Gartland writes about following the dreamFresher’s week is going to hit me like a brick. With every declined Facebook invitation, I think of new ways to keep myself distracted whilst all my friends start college. It's an odd one really. I'm so happy for them, but I can't help but feel a little left out as all the excitement brews around me.It's my own fault though of course; I'm taking a (pause for effect) gap year. I never meant to be the awkward one. I never aspired to be crazy or different, I never tried to fight any system; yet here I am, going against the grain. Well, for the foreseeable future at least.I've played music for years but never felt cool enough to call myself a musician. My reasoning behind the gap year was simple enough. I thought, right now I have no strings attached. No real commitments, no 9 to 5 - and that was it.I'm not desperate to leave Dublin but there's nothing tying me down here either, nothing to stop me hopping on a plane and frolicking about with my guitar for a couple months. I just really don't fancy ending up at an X Factor audition at fifty, begging for a final chance at the dream that scared me too much at eighteen.Not very many musicians ‘make it’. It's really great that so many people like to remind me of this when I tell them my plans for the year out. Some say, “best of luck!” while in their head they're thinking; she's going to end up playing gigs to an audience of two; her Mam and Dad.I'm cynical by nature, but I've never seen the point in having absolutely no optimism. I'm lucky enough to have a few friends in the UK pursuing music and the advice they've given me has been invaluable.They remind me, even when it's bleak, when you're in a dingy venue shouting over a noisy crowd, you NEED to convince yourself that things are on the up; no matter how slow the climb feels.I'd love to travel. My end goal in life is to be one of those pretentious, well-travelled people who must tell you just one more ridiculous story about their crazy time in Thailand last year. Or the time they navigated the country in a golf buggy with ten new friends strapped to the top or something.I'd absolutely love to visit the States, so I’ve began the tedious quest for a working Visa with the aim of booking a few gigs out there next year. I've met a few Americans this summer and they just love the Irish!You don't even need to win them over; they hear the Paddy accent and it's an instant connection, and they must tell you how their uncle's best friend's neighbour's granny was from Kerry. My party trick for Americans who claim to be born and bred Irish is to write down Dún Laoghaire and ask them to pronounce it.I have no idea what will happen this year for me, but I guess that's the most exciting part. I'm looking forward to moving to London, to playing a crazy amount of gigs, to meeting new people, to enduring countless Ryanair flights, to writing lots of horrifically bad songs and (hopefully) a couple of good ones.I'm looking forward to a bucketful of new experiences as I embrace one of the toughest industries in the world in one of the scariest cities I know. It builds character as they say.I'll put everything I've got into the music. Of course it could be a total flop, but so be it. I'd come back home a little sore and bitter, but I'd get over it eventually. If it comes to that I can just join the CAO party once again! Until then, I'm happy to be a total dosser.