Your Gap Year: What’s Stopping You?

December 14, 2019

Your Gap Year: What’s Stopping You?

May 29, 2023

My husband and I took a gap year at age 62, forty-four years after our respective parents forbade us from taking a timeout before starting university. The goal was to reinvent ourselves. We were determined to resist the tyranny of the three-stage life (learn, earn, retire). Our children were grown and launched. Why not, we thought?

We left Washington DC, where we had lived and worked for 31 years. We lived in Paris to study French, we volunteered in Africa, we wrote a blog together to document our experience, we fought and made up about what it all meant (leaving the familiar can be stressful). Ultimately, we moved to a tiny town on the coast of Maine.

And yes, the gap year changed our lives. My husband (a retired physician) has written his first book. I’ve launched a podcast (I’m on a mission to overthrow "learn, earn, retire") and created a women’s storytelling event.

Why don’t more of us who are 50-plus take a gap year (or six months)? The reason is often, “We can’t afford to.” But that’s just an excuse. The question is: can you afford NOT to?

If the purpose of a gap year is to step out of your default life, to give yourself space and time to think, and to reinvent how you will contribute to this planet, then what are you waiting for?

Debbie Weil is host of the Gap Year For Grown-Ups podcast and a two-time MEA graduate.

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