Spoiler alert: 30 is NOT too old to take a gap year. Far from it.
Society suggests that by 30 we should have got all our frivolity, travelling, and living, out of the way and be solely focusing on career and family. What about those of us that wake up at 30 to realise we aren’t quite done with the frivolous living bit? What if we turn 30 and starting a family still feels like a prospect for the distant future? What if we don’t actually love our job and don’t fancy spending the next 40 years doing it every day? Well, that was me. And if that is you too, I can highly recommend taking an “adult gap year”. (Is it just me, or is that expression gross? I pinky promise I won’t say it again.)
No longer exclusively for those fresh out of high school or university, a gap year is available to anyone who wants to take one. Hell, take two years if you want. It’s your life, you write the rules.
Before taking the plunge and making some of the irreversible decisions required to actually take a gap year, I was scared. I was scared that I was making an irresponsible decision. That I would regret leaving the company I had spent over three years working for. That I was too old to take a gap year.
But – like an Instagram post from an inspirational life coach – I felt the fear and I did it anyway. I quit my job; I sold my car; I moved out of my home; I loaned my cat out; I booked the flight; I left. And I am so glad I did.
Now, at 31 and still on said gap year, the thought that I was worried that 30 was too old to take a gap year is laughable. In actual fact, the thought that I may have just continued to live in the rut I was in is far scarier.
After announcing that I was leaving the company and heading off to travel around Central America, I set off a string of existential crises for my former colleagues. My inbox was flooded with messages like this:
I am so jealous. I wish more than anything I had gone and done something like that before settling down and having kids.
You’re so brave!! If only I was brave enough to do the same thing.
Now that [wife] is pregnant I guess my dreams of a gap year of my own are well and truly over.
That fear of being too old was completely internal. Nobody reacted with “isn’t 30 too old for a gap year? Wouldn’t you be better off just staying put?” It was quite the opposite.
Initially, I wasn’t sure I was being that brave, but the more I thought about it and the more people kept saying it, the more I realised it is brave. It’s brave to take a leap into the unknown. It’s brave to step out of your comfort zone. It’s brave to decide to change your life.
So if you’re reading this and you’ve been wondering if 30 is too old to take a gap year, stop worrying immediately! I’d encourage you to follow your gut and your heart, and if they’re calling you to take a gap year – do it! The real world, the career ladder, the chance to settle down, and your comfort zone, will all be waiting for you on the other side of it.
Don’t forget to think of me when you’re hiking a volcano in Costa Rica, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, or making friends on an overnight train in Vietnam.
- READ MORE: 5 Reasons It’s Great to Take a Gap Year at 30
- READ MORE: Changing Friendships in Your 30s
- READ MORE: Sober Travel Tips: Your First Sober Holiday
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