Why taking a year out after graduation could be the best thing you ever do

by Yl Tang

Graduating from university is a big part of life. It declares that your school life is officially over and you are prepared for more duties and challenges. However, life is the real college. If you want to graduate with honours, you better experience more and live your best life.

Let’s be real, being a student is much more flexible than being an adult. Once you have joined the workforce, your life is basically doomed. You have less time to yourself, fewer holidays, more bills, more taxes, not to mention the pressure of social expectations like raising your own family or reaching a higher position as time passes. Still, are these the only things that matter in life? For me, life should be unique, and life experiences are what make your life differ from others. Graduating from a university means you are ready for a new chapter, and I am not ready to start my boring adult life right after. So here is why taking a year out after graduation can be the best life decision you have ever made.

If you are lucky and have a clear mind on what you are going to work on for the rest of your life, congrats! If not, taking a year out can help you make up your mind. Try something new, you might find something that interests you. Take the year to study a new subject, make up your mind on whether or not you want to further your study or learn something new. You have a long life ahead and will definitely regret it if you find your interest in your retirement when you could have pursued it earlier. You might even figure out your dream job this year!

“But I already have my life ahead planned and I am doing what I love now.” Well, good for you. But I am going to tell you why taking a year off is still a good idea. There are too many things around the world waiting for you to explore. Not that you can’t do it while you are working, but there will be more limitations. You can’t ask for too many holidays in one go when you are working and travelling in a short period of time is never enough. You have fit in a packed schedule, and planning might stress you out or you could even be too exhausted to do it. While spending a small amount of time travelling is not the best idea, it is more stressful when you have to travel with your family. Not only is it going to be more expensive travelling with kids, but you also have to fit some “family friendly” activities and sacrifice the things you actually want to do. Imagine your kids acting out in a foreign country while you are relaxing next to a pool – it is going to be a one of a kind memory, but you won’t need that in your vacation.

You are going to be more mature after taking a year to backpack or have a working holiday on the other side the world, especially if you do it alone. You are going to meet a lot of amazing people that might help with your future career and provide you with international connections. No matter how introverted you are, there is always someone bubbly in the hostel. They might invite you to travel together and probably leave their contacts. It is nice to befriend strangers because you get to meet a diverse group of people. In your own social circle, it is more likely that you hang out with people with similar backgrounds or even personality. You can learn a lot from going out there and meeting people with different cultural backgrounds, getting to learn more about the world, how to show respect in different cultures, how to deal with people with different personalities. Your social skills are going to boost up and it will be a great help for your future career.

Also, it is less intimidating to explore when you are younger. You have more energy and less concern about money. You will get less or even no income after you have retired. And to sustain your living, there will be more financial concerns that might limit you from doing what you like. Your body condition might hinder your persuasion too, i.e. less stamina, health problems. It is easier to clear out your bucket list when you are young and with fewer health concerns. Imagine telling your family you want to go for a bungee jump when you are in your 60s – they are going to be so worried and your heart conditions might even not match the requirements (the insurance is going to cost more, too).

All in all, it is easier to be reckless when you are young and it is going to fill your life with adventures and make you a better person. Of course, I am not saying you cannot have fun with your family and a career, but taking a year to understand yourself when you are young can make your life a lot easier and more interesting. As I have said, life should be unique, and a year-long adventure filled with life experiences is definitely something that would make yours special.