Of course a gap year “wastes” a year of your life.
However, we get prepared for 15+ years to work, why make a choice of what to work on immediately?
How will we ever get to know the depth of the pool without stepping into it?
How will we ever know what we are good at if we don’t try what all we could be good at?
A gap year is simply the stopping at the petrol pump to give much needed fuel to the long drive of your career. Without it, we may be in an illusion of the car while in reality it is stagnant.