Wellbeing

A Case for the Mid-Twenties Life Break

I was 25 when I decided to take a life-break. I’d finished my university degree, was living out of home, and was a few years into my first ‘grown-up’ job when I made the call to I pack it all up, move cities and take some time out.

For many mid-twenty-year-olds just starting to settle into ‘adult’ life, it might seem like the worst possible time to step off the treadmill. But taking a break in your mid-twenties isn’t as crazy as it seems. Here’s a few reasons why.

Have a big ‘life-think’

Your early twenties can be a bit of a blur. Whether you studied, worked or travelled – it’s easy to get swept up in the swing of things. It’s not surprising then that hitting the quarter-century can come as a bit of a wake up call – that moment when the camera zooms in and you ask: ‘How did I get here?’

Taking some time out in your mid-twenties can be a great opportunity to look back on the things you’ve done, and re-assess your goals for the future. Where do you want to be in the next few years, and are you on the right path to achieve this? Sometimes it’s only by stepping off the track that we can actually see the track we’re on, and start to consider other ways in which to move forward.

Go back and study (for real, this time)

If you’re like me, you may have stayed up until midnight on the university applications deadline, unsure what you wanted to do even as you hit the big red button. For many of us, we’re still teenagers when we have to make a call about what it is we want to do: whether that’s choosing a university course, leaving school, starting an apprenticeship, pursing a business idea or passion.

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It can sometimes feel as though we’ve decided our life’s course before it’s even begun. But we change as we get older, and it’s only natural that our interests change too. Perhaps the thing you studied wasn’t as interesting as you thought? Maybe something else has caught your eye? Or perhaps you just didn’t take study quite as seriously as you would have liked the first time around.

Returning to study in your mid-twenties can be a good way to hone in on your interests and re-discover your skills. And it doesn’t just have to be a passion project, further study can be a real door-opener in your career. In a changing job market, the opportunities to re-train and switch track are better than ever, but only if you get those assignments in on time.

Be a little more worldly

While your younger self’s idea of travel may have been living out of a backpack, sharing 16-person dorms, drinking your way around Europe on a party bus or scrounging off mum and dad on a family holiday – you may be feeling there’s more to see and experience in the world now that you’re a little more world-wise.

Were you too strapped for cash to sample the delights of real French food? Too disorganised to book in that Machu Picchu hike the first time around? Did you try to cram everything in to your first trip, and want to take things a little bit slower? Or have you been too bogged down with study and work to see the world at all?

Whatever your reasons, your mid-twenties can be the perfect time to buy yourself a grown-up roller suitcase and head back out into the world.

Make some new mates (without ditching the old ones)

Back in high school it seemed like all it took was a two-week family holiday over summer and suddenly your BFF was wearing a new friendship bracelet. But by your mid-twenties friendships are a little less fickle. With people working full-time, settling into coupledom or moving overseas, suddenly it’s not so unusual to go months without seeing a close friend or getting the whole crew together.

why not take this change of pace as an opportunity to step outside your circle?

So why not take this change of pace as an opportunity to step outside your circle? While it’s nice to be around people who have known you ever since you had that emo fringe in high school, it can also be refreshing to meet people who see you as the person you are now. That’s not to say leave your old friends behind, simply to take confidence in the stability of your friendships, and use it as an opportunity to step outside you social comfort zone.

Find a new ‘local’

By your mid-twenties you’ve probably settled down: found a house, have a favourite café, a local watering hole. You’ve got your rituals, your friends, not to mention twenty-something years worth of stuff. The idea of giving all that up can feel scary or, if nothing else, a whole lot of unnecessary effort. However, your mid-twenties are also a unique time of mobility. If you haven’t got a mortgage or kids, it can be a great time to step outside your routines and see how things are done in a different part of the world.

If you haven’t got a mortgage or kids, it can be a great time to step outside your routines

While you may like your Campos, turns out Brazil or Vienna do a pretty good latte too. If American-themed bars are your thing, why not go to a real one? (Hot tip: Blue Ribbon costs half the price over there.)

But it’s not all about fun. Moving overseas can be a great opportunity to re-visit foreign language skills, or simply immerse yourself in a different culture. Plus, international experience looks great on your CV, and can get you ahead of the game through giving you a unique insight into different working models and systems.

Hold on to your ‘youth’ for dear life

While you may still be keeping up with the latest Shannon Noll memes – the harsh reality is, you’re not getting younger. From here, adult life only gets more ‘adult-y’, so now could be your last opportunity to be a teensy bit irresponsible – to take some time out from the routines and responsibilities of being a grown-up and enjoy the freedom, mobility and opportunities that being young provides.

Would I be five years too late to say YOLO? Yes. Do I care? Not at all.


Rebecca Slater is a writer and editor from Sydney currently studying at the University of Oxford.