28 for 29, #16: Anna Holcombe

An ongoing series in which I ask people what their lives were like at my age – even if they’re not very far from my age.

Anna Holcombe

Earlier this summer, when I shared that I was moving, I was invited to join a Facebook group for nonprofit professionals in greater Chicago. Several folks extended warm virtual welcomes but Anna Holcombe went above and beyond to suggest that we meet up for coffee. Anna writes about “the connections that she sees growing between social causes, marketing strategies, and Millennials’ entrepreneurial contributions to these intersections” on her blog, Good Money.

Julia: Does the term “Saturn returns” mean anything to you?

Anna: It does. There’s a tendency to think about age 30 as a milestone, and I think that part of this comes with an association- which I think is true- between figuring out more about what you want from 28-30 and paving the ground for all the great stuff that comes with feeling more secure about who you are when you are moving into your early 30’s.

In astrology, the Saturn return is associated with beginning to become an adult. While we explore a lot when we are in our 20’s, astrology says that a Saturn return is when we are confronted with our beliefs and our circumstances in a new albeit challenging way – we kind of burn off some of our old karma that we bring into the world and begin to pave our own.

I think we all have themes in our lives that we are here to learn about and grown from which in part we bring into this world. Seeing some of these themes where I was challenged most during this time in my life is what has lead me to get a bigger picture of who I am now.

J: Where were you when you turned 28?

A: I was working in membership development at a nonprofit in Fort Collins, CO, and waiting to hear back from graduate programs. I knew that I wanted to make a big move, geographically and professionally, to a big city and wrap my brain around some new ideas professionally.

J: What are one or two or several things you remember from the year or so surrounding that birthday? 

A: On my birthday, I went to my favorite martini bar in Fort Collins and the bartender looked at my ID and said, “We have the same birthday!” I didn’t believe him until I saw his ID. Funny how out of any bar, I landed at one where the bartender shared my birthday.

Overall my 28th year was really challenging. After living in Fort Collins for about 2 years, I moved to Chicago without a job into a new field in graduate school that I wasn’t 100% certain about. I also experienced my first Chicago winter in my first apartment that didn’t really crank the heat. It was rough too because I didn’t know a lot of people and was new in what felt like a big and lonely city.

J: What was happening in the world that year? Do you remember newsworthy events, books you read, movies or shows or art you experienced?

A: I remember going to a women’s film festival at DePaul during the fall when I first arrived to Chicago and learning after I had arrived at the event that the film was part of a Luna Bar sponsored film tour. This was one of the first examples of corporate sponsorship through nontraditional partnerships with the artistic community that seemed particularly meaningful, especially because Luna Bar didn’t shove in your face their brand from the get-go. That night supported one of my goals in going to grad school in public relations and advertising to explore corporate driven initiatives that have social meaning.

J: Do you have any advice for someone going through this (supposedly) astrologically tumultuous time? 

A: Don’t base your life on traditional milestones. If anything, think of 30 as the beginning of a new and clearer path towards knowing who you are. Fear of not being on par with where I was “supposed to be” is something I’ve learned to let go of since turning 30, and this took a few years to figure out.

I think that what I’ve learned recently starting when I was about 28 is that women look towards each other to understand all the options which are in front of us rather than sticking to any particular one path. As mentors to each other, we are helping each other trust ourselves, understand what we want, and let go of old conceptions of ourselves that no longer have a purpose in our growth by understanding the context of our lives over the span of 30 or so years. Saturn return from 28 to 30 helped me to be honest now as a 32-year-old. There’s a purpose to these years for sure that I find really valuable now.

Thanks, Anna! For more of Anna’s insight, check out this Good Money post, where she writes about how one corporate campaign is highlighting the ways Millennial women can and should mentor one another. 

Photo: Provided by Anna. 

Previous posts in the series: Hannah, #1Kara, #2Saya, #3Cathy (aka Mom), #4Rachel, #5Jen, #6Cathy W., #7Celeste, #8Deanna, #9Kyra, #10Aditi, #11Russ, #12Amy, #13Ellen, #14Niec, #15.

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