Saturn frickin’ returns

So around the same time that I turned 30, my life sort of exploded. In some good ways. In some really difficult ways. I won’t belabor them here, both for the sake of my own privacy (I can imagine writing about some of it once it’s good and processed, but not quite yet) and your attention span. In any case, trust me. Life threw me a few curve balls.
So often when I would bring up the big transitions I was experiencing, women friends would nod their heads knowingly (Sami, ahem, Sami) and say, “Uh huh, that’s Saturn Returns.” Don’t know what it is? Trusty Wikipedia’s got an explanation:

It is believed by astrologers that as Saturn “returns” to the degree in which it occupied at the time of birth–approximately every 29.5 years–a person crosses over a major threshold and into the next stage of life. With the first Saturn Return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood.

I have a funny relationship with astrology. For most of my life, I’ve been pretty resistant to it on the highly sophisticated rebel-against-what-your-mother-loves principle. But damn if it doesn’t sound wildly accurate sometimes. I’m still trying to crawl my way out of this damn return, but here’s a little of what I think I’ve learned about surviving it so far…
1. Don’t be too sure. Life’s got all kinds of wildness in store for your ass that you could never predict.
2. Surrender. There’s no use fighting change.
3. There comes a time in every young woman’s life when she’s got to look her mentor in the face and say, “Sometimes, you really suck.” And if her mentor is worth her title, she’ll be open to that critique.
4. Don’t, whatever you do, listen to Fiona Apple or watch (500) Days of Summer. Do jump up and down to Kelly Clarkson.
5. Therapy is good.
6. Trying to hold it all together is not.
7. Sometimes the most feminist relationships don’t come in the most radical looking packages.
8. Suffering both humbles and strengthens empathy.
9. A good hair cut is not to be underestimated.
10. Integrity and kindness are almost all there really is.

Join the Conversation

  • Spiffy McBang

    “But damn if it doesn’t sound wildly accurate sometimes.”
    Bet it can’t beat the octopus that’s been predicting games at the World Cup. Hasn’t missed one yet.

  • erin.patti

    I agree. This completely resonates with my experience. Thanks for writing it, Courtney.

  • JudiB

    “7. Sometimes the most feminist relationships don’t come in the most radical looking packages.”
    Love this one, Courtney.

  • genericjanedoe

    Do jump up and down to Kelly Clarkson.
    This can never, ever be done enough. At all stages in life.

  • TG the wanderer

    Good luck getting through it! Seems like a lot of good advice you’ve put together so far (though, I do like Fiona Apple’s music a lot, but I can see why you wouldn’t want to listen to her during a time in which you’re likely to sulk or feel bad).
    If I could add one, perhaps: Remember friendships! Friends are really good to get us through rough times.
    Concerning the astrology however: Perhaps a more likely explanation for the life transitions discussed in the “Saturn Returns” phenomena is the fact that, you know, the person is around 29.5 year old and thus at a particular time in their life as an adult rather than that person is being affected by the relative positions of Earth and a planet approximately 746 million miles away? And if a person isn’t going through major life changes at 29.5 years old, they are unlikely to think about the “Saturn Returns” bit and unlikely to volunteer evidence against the phenomenon, thus helping to aid the perception of astrology as strangely accurate.

  • Comrade Kevin

    I suppose Saturn’s returned for me too, though I don’t technically turn 30 until October.
    My life exploded too quite recently, but not necessarily in a bad way. I sort of came into my own in a way I had always craved but never had managed. But mixed in with it were little ironies always present but never acknowledged.
    I would add to your list…
    11. Never, and I mean, NEVER, assume.
    12. Sometimes there are no answers and you’re not meant to know them.

  • MRG

    Thanks, Courtney, for your post. Although I am not yet 30 (I’m almost 20 and attending your Alma Mater), I’ve experienced quite a few curveballs recently and found your post to be thoughtful and reassuring. I hope you are doing well!

  • philososaurus

    I love it! I love it all! You almost lost me at “don’t listen to Fiona Apple” (just a few songs, pleeeease), but you won me back with a wonderful (and much needed and never offered) piece of advice: “sometimes the most feminist relationships don’t come in the most radical looking packages.”
    Thanks. I’m looking forward to my Saturn returning.

  • ArtOfMe

    An interesting post. I’m 20 and trying to become a better person, and I wonder what else life will have in store for me. I try to learn from all of my experiences.
    But, um, what’s wrong with Fiona Apple? I think her Tidal album is beautiful.

  • Courtney

    For the record, I LOVE Fiona Apple, but she makes my sad even sadder.

  • SociologicalMe

    While I totally respect the experiences of Courtney and others who had a strong Saturn Return, I hate to think that we’re giving a bunch of twenty-something feminists another reason to dread their thirtieth birthday. We’ve already got the whole bit about pop culture declaring us legally dead at that age, or at least totally useless and ugly. I had a big life transition at around 22 and another at 27, but years 29 through 31 were all fairly routine. I learned and grew, stuff happened, but there weren’t any huge transitions. This kind of stuff happens when it happens.

  • MarySophia

    “This kind of stuff happens when it happens.”
    I couldn’t agree more.
    “I hate to think that we’re giving a bunch of twenty-something feminists another reason to dread their thirtieth birthday.”
    I have to disagree. Giant personal shifts are something I tend to look forward to, not dread.

  • rcspicuglia

    never have gotten Saturn returning, thx. a beautiful list and I know what you mean about lives exploding! though I feel like this happens to me every five years or so;) great advice. and I

  • Clix

    Yep, same thing here. My big years were 20, 26, 27, and now I’ve had another doozy at 32.

  • Emma

    Are we living the same life? I love:
    1. Don’t be too sure. Life’s got all kinds of wildness in store for your ass that you could never predict.