In Your 20’s? Forget About a Gap Year – For Now



In fact if you are in your 20’s, everything you felt you were entitled to 6 months ago (eg a part time job, a car, an entry level job, a month on an island, all night parties for 12 months straight etc) is gone.

At best, your goals and dreams are 10X harder to achieve right now, if not impossible to achieve in the foreseeable future.

When the pandemic exploded into Australia around March this year, the general consensus at first amongst Australians and the media was that this would all be over in 6 months to a year at worst.

Fast forward to October and it is clear that not only it is not over, the world as we knew it has changed, and nothing in the world and no aspect of life has not been effected.

Many of us are refusing to accept this significant paradigm shift, and sitting in denial, planning trips we will never take, overseas study courses, and pretending everything is going “back to normal” very soon.

But the truth is it isn’t.

There is now a new normal, and people in their 20’s and younger are some of the hardest hit as this is the first time they have seen real life challenges, and has real road blocks in front of their dreams.

I am still hearing graduates talking about their gap year, that was wound back to a year in New Zealand, then to a year travelling around Australia, to…. a 6 week road trip around NSW.

Diamond-shaped crossing sign with yellow background and black

But this misses the point – that everything has changed and even if the New Zealand (let alone European) borders open tomorrow, and a gap year was possible, it just wouldn’t be the same. Somehow it couldn’t have the right flavour.

Think about it – a gap year is all about youth hostels (think 8 bunkbeds in one room so zero social distancing), making new, global friends (who are probably not going to fly in even if you do), eating amazing local food (many of the restaurants and cheap eats globally have shut for now) get the drift.

There are only two words of advice to deal with this situation: let go. Or let it go, and then let go. 

Then pivot – in other words, put your energy and focus into something else for now.

One idea is to find a job you can work in for now, and just for now to really build up your savings so that in the future you can go away, and maybe for longer, or at a different level of travel.

Focus on your future career – given how quickly things are changing, are your career goals realistic? Can you realistically see the industry and/or jobs you aspire to working in still being relevant in 3-5-10 years? If you are not sure, find people to talk to who are already working in the industry and ask them the tough questions such as Where do you see the future of this industry?

Consider post-graduate study: this will diversify your job choices later, and there are a ltd of online courses available now.

Invest some energy and time into helping people.This means lending a hand to someone with less than or in a more difficult situation than yourself. So many people are struggling at this time, from the homeless to youth groups, and more. Look around your local area and see if there is some way you can give back. You could help someone who really needs it, and you will feel amazing bringing something positive into someone else’s life.

Review your finances and financial goals and educate yourself about money by reading some material.

Look at new self-help techniques from yoga to meditation, laughing classes (they are fun), or even craft.

All of this is advice for now. No-one knows exactly where the world is going, when the boarders will open, and what will happen when they do. One thing is for sure though, none of that is happening quickly, and when it does, things will not be what they were and probably not for a very long time.

And before you say this is a pessimistic way to look at the world, it’s not. It’s optimistic. It is putting yourself in the best position now so that you have the best possible future that meets your expectations instead of falling short.

The world will go on. And you want to be at the forefront of the global changes, not looking in the other direction.

And hey, one of the best lessons to learn in life is how to deal with change, and adversity. So if you’re learning now how to cope, life and all of it’s ups and downs will be so much easier and better for you to deal with in the future.

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Renae Leith


Renae Leith travels the world writing ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist in many magazines and newspapers, and spends her time writing, consulting to new businesses, running, doing yoga, swimming & cycling.
She's likes healthy eating, but thinks chocolate cake is just as important as kale chips.
She spends most weekends writing, and hanging out with her gorgeous twins.

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