As I explained here, I’m turning 29 next month. Before my birthday, I hope to publish 28 interviews with folks I know and love, exploring transitions they experienced around my age (even if they’re not very far from my age now!) and hopefully giving them an excuse for a few minutes of reflection. Want to participate? Drop me a line or leave a comment.
Hannah, my friend and former coworker, is Chief Fun Scientist at Everybody’s Invited, a full-service events company based in Portland, Oregon. She believes that play, surprise, and adventure are key ingredients for a happy life.
Julia: Does the term “Saturn returns” mean anything to you?
Hannah: Besides calling to mind that No Doubt album from 2000? Only a little. I have heard the theory, and, while I’m skeptical of the astrological underpinnings, I do appreciate any sort of impetus for self-reflection! ”Entering adulthood” seems like an entirely subjective experience, and one that is dependent on certain changing cultural artifacts like religion, values, social mores, etc. My sense is that people who subscribe to the Saturn returns philosophy might be suffering from confirmation bias (if you’re looking for signs of tumultuous change, it will be easy to spot them).
J: Where were you when you turned 28?
H: I was in the middle of my 7-year stint in New York City. I’m pretty sure I broke up with my boyfriend that year and moved to a new neighborhood. (Please don’t take that as evidence to support the theory! Last year, I spent two months traveling, moved to a new city, and made the decision to start a new business. Any year, or any set period of time for that matter, can be punctuated by periods of growth and change!)
J: What are one or two or three things you remember from the year or so surrounding that birthday?
H: I remember being in the best physical shape of my life. In fact, I worked with a personal trainer for a bit that year, and she was the first person to tell me about the Saturn return idea. I think I characterized that time as finally focusing on the physical, rather than just the intellectual and emotional aspects of my life. That felt like a big breakthrough. On the other hand, I also remember feeling quite a bit of career and boyfriend angst. Both of those things took awhile to get sorted out. Interestingly, I’m back to a period now where I feel like I need to do more physical things again. Ebb and flow, right?
J: Do you feel close to those memories, or far from them?
H: I’m 32 now, so it wasn’t that long ago. So….close? But I also remember high school like it was yesterday.
J: Do you have any advice for someone going through this astrologically tumultuous time?
H: Well, my advice for someone going through any tumultuous time would be to have an arsenal of tricks in your back pocket for recovering lost perspective. When you’re going through periods of change, your perspective gets all screwy. You might be extra hard on yourself or loved ones, things might look worse than they are, or, perhaps most critically, you might lose your sense of humor. So some tricks might include doling out extra portions of self-care and self-forgiveness, finding some quotations about change that resonate with you (I find “All great changes are preceded by chaos” to be a comforting notion), and maintaining a social schedule (for the jokes!).
I also like to dramatically shift the scope or subject of my thinking. So, if I’m fixated on something like finding a new apartment, I might zoom out mentally and imagine where I’ll live in 10 years. Or if I’m feeling too focused on a job search, I might read the international section of a newspaper for awhile. Anything to get me out of whatever headspace I’m in, so that I can come back later with a fresh perspective.
I want to point out that this has taken me a very long time to learn. For many years, my instinct was to talk an issue to death. I felt like I couldn’t rest, or move on to another topic, until I’d articulated and clarified every aspect of my own thinking about a subject. I would use friends as sounding boards, and they would politely suffer through my longwinded and self-indulgent processes. Interestingly, for a long time, I equated this ability to dig into a topic, to analyze the crap out of it, with some sort of maturity. Now it feels like a relic of my twenties, and I’m glad to be rid of the habit. Perhaps it’s a result of being a little bit nearer to old age, but I now value my time too much to spend that much of it thinking.
Big thanks to Hannah for encouraging me and for being my guinea pig for this series!
Photo of Hannah at age 27 or 28: Spring 2007, Chicago, IL. (All photos on this blog are by yours truly unless otherwise attributed.)