“I’m Gonna Use This Year To Slow Down”: Mom Quits Her Job To Take A Mid-Life Gap Year

Being an adult can be frustratingly exhausting at times. You’ve got all the pressures of your job to deal with. Then you have all the wonderfully fulfilling challenges of taking care of your family. Not to mention that you have to find the time and energy to spend on your hobbies, take care of your health, meet with your friends, and then do the dishes on top of that. Meanwhile, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking about how you’d love to take some time off and focus on what matters most: spending quality time with your loved ones and doing what makes your soul sing—whether that’s art, travel, music, or writing that twelve-part fantasy novel series you’ve been meaning to get to.

Writer Kym Wootton, @kymmersfullofsunshine, has recently gone viral on TikTok and in the media after leaving her high-paying job and declaring that she’s taking a ‘midlife gap year’ to do all the things that she loves the most. From slowing down and spending more time with her family to taking the time to exercise and fulfill her dream of writing a book. People really loved the idea (and might be a bit jelly, too). Scroll down for her full video, as well as how the internet reacted to it.

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Bored Panda reached out to Kym and she was kind enough to share how long she and her family planned to make the gap year a reality, why she believes the way that many of us work is simply unsustainable, and how writing her book is coming along. You’ll find our full interview with her below!

Kym recently quit her job and decided to take a ‘mid-life gap year’ to focus on what truly matters in life, an idea that many people loved

Image credits: kymmersfullofsunshine

“Today is the first day of my midlife gap year”

“You know, when kids are done with high school and they’re not yet ready to go to college, and they take that gap year, just a year, to work or travel or have fun or rest or relax or whatever, before they get into their college years.”

Image credits: kymmersfullofsunshine

“It’s crazy to me that once we start working, we start our careers. That’s it, we just work, we grind until we are in our late 60s, and we can retire hopefully. And I found myself at a job that I was increasingly feeling like wasn’t a good fit. And I quit, I quit.”

Image credits: kymmersfullofsunshine

“And instead of doing what every person does, find another job, I’m gonna take a break for maybe a year if I can. I realize how fortunate I am that I can even consider this. It’s really special. And I don’t want to squander it.”

Image credits: kymmersfullofsunshine

“And so I’m going to use this year to first slow down, take some of the rush out of my life, allow ambiguity to be in my life, which is very tough for me try to do a mix of things every day where I rest and I do some exercise and I write, which I love to do, and I never ever, ever make time for and spend time with my husband and my kiddos and just take a break, just take a break. So I hope you’ll follow me along on my adventure.”

Image credits: kymmersfullofsunshine

You can watch Kym’s full TikTok right over here

@kymmersfullofsunshine Day 1 of my #midlifegapyear ♬ original sound – Kym Wootton

“You have the permission to call a time out”

Kym told Bored Panda that, in her opinion, the reason why her video is resonating with so many people is that the way that many of us work now is unsustainable. “The expectations at work in business environments are getting higher in every way—many knowledge workers like me who are expected to be on and available anytime the business needs them to be. It’s exhausting and flawed—the system needs to evolve,” she told Bored Panda.

“Our idea of what success looks like is very linear—you work as hard as you can so you can make more money and achieve more career success. Oftentimes, our careers take on a life of their own—our bosses and leaders define what makes us successful and put us on those paths. By the time you ask yourself, ‘Do I even want this? Do I like this?’ you may be in a spot with your career where it’s too scary to choose another path because it may mean less money or be deemed a bad career move,” Kym explained the dilemma that many working professionals have dealt with (or are dealing with right now). Taking a break from the rat race is a viable option.

“The fact that if you aren’t happy or fulfilled by your work, that you have the permission to call a time out is a disruptive idea,” Kym said.

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Image credits: energepic.com (not the actual photo)

“We talked about this and planned for several years”

According to the writer, the very idea of a gap year practically screams ‘privilege,’ and she understands that. “It’s simply not accessible for many people to stop working. For me and my family, we talked about this and planned for several years. We paid off debts and made compromises so we could save and spend much less.”

Of course, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Others could adapt the gap year idea in other ways, like “finding a different career that doesn’t drain you, going part-time or down from 5 days a week to 4, starting a side hustle that allows you to bring something you’re passionate about to life. If your first thought is, ‘I can’t do that!’ I challenge you to reconsider. Do you believe that because it’s not the ‘right’ way? How about if you find your way without outdated belief systems holding you back?”

Kym was very straightforward in that we have to be incredibly honest with ourselves about what we want. “If you have a voice that is telling you that you’re in the wrong career or job, listen to it. There’s something bigger than you that’s guiding you to a different path. Maybe your gap year can’t start tomorrrow, but maybe it can start in two years if you’re serious about it,” the writer noted that with a bit of planning and flexibility, the idea really is something that others could apply in their own lives.

“I know I’m meant for something different and it feels liberating to listen to that voice”

“My main driver behind my decision to leave my job was to give myself the chance to write a novel that I’ve had in my head for many years. I’m proud of myself for finally betting on me. I know I’m meant for something different and it feels liberating to listen to that voice,” Kym opened up to Bored Panda about her decision to finally follow her calling, something that many of us relate to on a very deep level.

“I was nervous that even with hours during the day to write, that I still wouldn’t be able to hack it and my novel would go unwritten. However, it’s been the opposite. I’m full of enthusiasm and energy for my writing and the book is coming together even quicker than I thought it would. It frustrates me that it took me this long to believe in myself and my ability to do this. I know now that I am meant to be a writer.” She shared with Bored Panda that she’s writing an adult fiction novel, focusing on a dystopian setting. “It’s a bit dark and it’s been a lot of fun to write,” she said.

Image credits: Taryn Elliott (not the actual photo)

“I get to be with my kids fully—no more work travel, checking email nights and weekends”

Kym was honest about what the gap year’s been going like so far: “Every day feels like freedom. I get to be with my kids fully—no more work travel, checking email nights and weekends, and work situations that kept me mentally distracted even when I was with my family. I get to enjoy mornings with the kids and then pick them up from school and REALLY hear about their days instead of thinking about the meeting I’ve got to get to. I wake up with ideas of what I want to write instead of waking up with dread of the day ahead,” she revealed how the quality of her life has increased dramatically as there’s less chronic stress.

“Because I’m not rationing my days off for family vacations, I’ve gotten to go on a couple of weekends away with friends. This time is allowing me to explore a different part of myself that doesn’t have anything to do with being a wife, mom, or worker. I can feel that I’m evolving into the best version of myself,” she said.

Kym also shared some of the frustrations that came with her newfound internet fame. Some people were rushing ahead to judge her one way or the other without even getting to grips with the story. “For God’s sake people, read the article not just the headline,” she quipped. “There were a lot of nasty comments saying I was selfish for taking a gap year because people assumed I was ditching my family. It’s the exact opposite—I’m finally showing up for myself and my family.”

The purpose of the gap year is to change gears and slow down for a while

Kym shared on TikTok how she’s going to be taking the time to get away from the constant rushing she had at her old job. She quit in January 2023, but instead of finding another job immediately, she will be taking around a year off to focus on her family, her health, and taking the time to work on her writing—something that she loves to do but never seemed to find the time for it.

The woman’s story was picked up by a wide range of news outlets, but some of them were more interested in dramatizing her situation than actually getting to grips with what the idea of the gap year was meant to represent—slowing down and having some ambiguity in life.

Let’s not beat around the bush—many of you working Pandas probably wish you could do the same. Most of us know what it means to have to put your actual priorities on the back burner because of how demanding your job is. However, if you find that your work is becoming increasingly unfulfilling, you might need to consider going elsewhere or doing what Kym did.

Image credits:LinkedIn Sales Solutions (not the actual photo)

Many employees don’t have their needs met in the office and deal with burnout

People need purpose. Without it, we’re lost. Employees also want respect and recognition, and to be fairly rewarded for their efforts. A recent Gallup poll found that employees prioritize an increase in income (64%), better work-life balance (61%), and the ability to do what they do best (58%). Many managers probably already know this. However, knowing something and doing something about it are two entirely different things.

Workplace burnout is a massive issue in the job industry. A whopping 77 percent of respondents said during a recent Deloitte survey that they’ve experienced it at their current jobs. Over half of them said that it’s happened more than once. Massive stress and frustration have a negative impact on people’s work and relationships. And almost 70 percent of respondents said that their employers aren’t doing enough to prevent burnout.

The reality is that all of us are responsible for deciding when enough is enough. If your workplace is toxic, you don’t get paid a fair wage, your manager can’t lead, and the work that you do doesn’t make the world a better place, you’re likely daydreaming about being anywhere else but there. But it takes a lot of courage (and some smart financial planning) to create change in your life.

Image credits:Agencia INNN (not the actual photo)

All of us are personally responsible for setting healthy boundaries in our lives when it comes to work

Broadly speaking, you have three choices. First of all, you can stay silent and keep quiet quitting, but you’re likely going to continue being miserable. Secondly, you can try and change how your department functions. Talk to your supervisor and HR, communicate your expectations, look for some compromises when it comes to your work-life balance, and explain where you’re coming from. Good communication is the foundation for this. However, you have to be honest with yourself: would you stay at your current company if they do make the changes you asked for?

The third option is to consider jumping ship. Maybe you need to find another company to work for—one whose values are a tad closer to what you prioritize. Maybe you’ve realized that the industry you work in is slowly killing you with stress and that you’re making the world a worse place by doing what you do. Or perhaps you’ve finally understood what your true calling in life is. Whatever the case might be, it’s not a bad idea to take some time off and seriously think about what your plan is. How long you can afford to do that will depend on a lot of things, including welfare laws, your savings, and how much support your loved ones can give you.

Take the time to rest, brush up on your skills, maybe even learn a few new ones. Then, energized, you can tackle the job market again. Or maybe you’ll find that you shine best when you’re working for yourself. Whatever path you choose, you need the courage and cunning to follow through. But it’s going to be all worth it. Especially when you publish the book you’ve been dreaming of writing these past few years!

The writer’s video resonated with a lot of people all around the internet

The post “I’m Gonna Use This Year To Slow Down”: Mom Quits Her Job To Take A Mid-Life Gap Year first appeared on Bored Panda.

Source: boredpanda.com

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