At some point in nearly everyone’s life, a person stops, looks around at their life, and wonders, “Is this really it? Am I living the life I’m supposed to be living?”
Most of us chalk it up to a midlife crisis and continue on with the status quo. But what if we decided to do something about it instead?
What if, rather than living our lives, we chose to live our dreams instead?
Well, one mom set out to do just that. And man, it is inspiring.
Why One Mom Decided to Take a Midlife Gap Year
Feeling trapped in a job that wasn’t a good fit and burnt out from juggling all.the.things. 42-year-old Kym Wootton decided she’d had enough.
So, in January 2023, she quit the rat race. She gave up her six-figure salary job as a chief administrative officer at a consultancy agency. Her plan? To take an entire year to “reimagine” herself and focus on what she loves most.
She’s calling it her “midlife gap year.”
“Today is the first day of my midlife gap year,” she shares in a video posted to her TikTok account, @kymmersfullofsunshine.
She explains that the idea is similar to the gap year usually reserved for college-bound kids. The one where they just take “a year to work or travel or have fun or rest or relax or whatever,” first.
She continues: “It’s crazy to me that once we start working, we start our careers — that’s it. We work, we grind, until we are in our late 60s and we can retire, hopefully.”
She’s not wrong. Most of us will spend 40-plus years working, day in and day out, taking our two weeks of vacation a year (or more if we’re really lucky), never having the time or the energy to do the things we really want to do.
It’s not the kind of life she dreams of (does any of us? Really?). So, instead of grinding away at a soul-sucking job for the next twenty-five years or so of her life, she decided to take a leap.
It was now or never.
What One Mom Plans On Doing During Her Midlife Gap Year
“Even when I was with [my kids], I was thinking about work,” Kym told Good Morning America. “So the idea that I could just step away from it, that I could walk away from a successful career to reimagine what I wanted to do, and at the same time, getting the opportunity to be around my family all the time, that was really exciting for me.”
Kym says she plans on using the year to “slow down” and “take some of the rush out of life.” She’ll rest, exercise, write the novel she’s always wanted to write, and spend quality time with her family — sons Finn, 16, and Will, 13 — and husband, Mike, 49.
One thing is for sure, she has no plans of squandering it. She knows what an incredible gift it is. One that has the full support of her husband.
It’s a goal they’ve been working towards for years. They paid off debt and spent 7 months living off of Mike’s salary and saving her own in preparation for the financial toll her gap year would take.
As for her plans after the year is up? That’s TBD (to be determined) however she does know one thing; she has zero plans on returning to her life pre-gap year.
It’s a Midlife Gap Year, NOT a Sabbatical
In another TikTok, Kym explains that, contrary to popular belief, she’s NOT on sabbatical. For her, there is no going back.
“A gap year is a reset. I am trying to dream up something totally new for myself. I’m not going back to what I did before. I am going forward,” she says.
And going forward means figuring out what she’s really meant to do in the world.
Turns out, Kym is not alone. Midlife gap years are a thing. She has received countless messages from other women who are either in the midst of taking one or are planning to take one.
Her TikTok comments are also filled with women sharing their own stories.
“i’m in a midlife gap year too! i start the PCT on monday,” one person writes.
“Yes, 42 and started this a year and a half ago. I honestly have never been happier.”
“Girl same sold my preschool moved out of state and bought 75 acres and another horse working on changing professions completely! Best decision ever!”
Another writes, “THIS ME! I just quit my job last month. I’m “rewiring” not “retiring”!”
How She Hopes Her Gap Year Will Inspire Others
The biggest message Kym hopes people take away from hearing about her journey is this: “If you have an ache inside of you…if there is something in you that is saying you need to be doing this, will you please pursue it?”
Kym knows that not everyone can afford to take an entire year off. But she hopes that doesn’t stop people from pursuing their passions.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities and routines and forget about the things that truly bring us joy and fulfillment.
So often, life gets in the way of our dreams. We put them on a shelf where they end up lost or forgotten. But sometimes, they’re not lost at all, they’re just waiting.
And it’s up to us to chase them.