Andrea is on a quest to check off a bucket list of items in her 29th year. You can read more about her adventures at her blog, Thirty-Things.
In discussing this project with people, I’ve mentioned that part of the ethos behind it was that I felt like I (and everyone I knew of a similar age) have been heading for a massive shift in my life as I approach the threshold from my twenties to my thirties. On several occasions people have nodded knowingly and said ‘Right. The Saturn Return.’
For the uninitiated, the Saturn Return is an astrological phenomenon in which the planet Saturn returns to the spot in the cosmos that it was in when you were born. Basically, the time it takes to orbit the sun once is approximately 29.4 years (kind of a plodder, that Saturn). The planet’s return is supposed to usher you into a new stage of life: from childhood to adulthood at thirty, then into maturity at sixty, and into wise old age at ninety. The first Saturn Return of one’s life is supposed to bring with it all kinds of questions about where you want to go with your life in terms of your career, relationships, the whole enchilada. Sounds familiar.
Astrology isn’t something I completely discount, nor do I take it especially seriously. I am a classic Aries (passionate, stubborn, independent), but my horoscope is wrong as often as it is right (usually vague enough to interpret either way). And yet as I look at both myself and all my thirty-ish friends, the evidence of this is everywhere: people looking for new jobs, new romances and new lives. Might there be something to this?
The question of whether the Saturn return is a real thing or not could be seen as a bit of a chicken and egg debate, I suppose. Does the tension one feels approaching thirty prove the existence of the Saturn Return or has that tension been created in part by the myth itself? As much as certain pressures may be manufactured by society: the idea that we should spend our twenties being freewheeling and carefree but immediately become serious adults with proper jobs and relationships that are heading towards marriage for instance, there does seem to be a very real shift in one’s perspective that happens right around twenty-nine.
Equally ludicrous as the idea that people magically become adults on their thirtieth birthday, of course, is the idea that anyone spends their twenties in some state of carefree, full-grown, childlike bliss. I spent a lot of my twenties trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life and while my twenties were plenty fun, they were also desperately angsty.
Whether it’s astrological, spiritual, or societal: turning (or approaching) thirty does serve as a wakeup call. Not to give up the wanton ways of your twenties necessarily (if that’s what you want then I say go on with your wanton self!), but to take a good hard look at what is working in your life and what isn’t. Almost everyone I know in their late twenties to early thirties is undergoing or has just undergone some sort of massive transition, whether it be a cross country move, a career change or a relationship one (see The Wedding Wave). The remarkable thing about being this age and feeling this shift is that you suddenly realize, not only do you have the momentum to remake your life, you actually have the tools you need as well.
When you’re starting out in your twenties, you have all kinds of ideas about what your want your life to be like and it’s up to you to go out and chase those things to figure out which of those will work in your life, and which won’t. I, for instance, don’t want to work for a magazine or live in Manhattan but I wouldn’t have known that unless I’d tried it.
Much like you can be pretty sure that any friendship that survived your twenties is probably a life-long one, so is any dream that did. And if I hadn’t gone through all the rejection and setbacks I did as a writer in my twenties, than I wouldn’t have what I have now which is the absolute certainty that this is what I want to do with my life.
The jury is out on whether or not I think the planets have anything to do with my current state of mind, but I do know that life occasionally presents you with the opportunity to rearrange your life and that those moments, if you have the courage to seize them, can change everything.