This article helps name and support the journey from 20-something to 30-something. If anxiety has plagued you through this period you are not alone…
During our terribly awkward teenage years, many of us fantasized about what it would be like to be in our mid-late 20’s.
We were certain that our relationships, career and social life would all be neatly in place long before we hit 30. Even during those sweaty, clumsy goodbyes at the end of summer camp, our teenage selves were sure we’d have it all together by then. It seemed so far away.
(From Wet Hot American Summer, 2001)
Susie: You guys, I’m really going to miss this place.
Coop: Me too.
Ben: Hey, let’s all promise that in ten years from today, we’ll meet again, and we’ll see what kind of people we’ve blossomed into.
Ben: What time do you wanna meet?
J.J.: You mean ten years from now?
Coop: Let’s meet in the morning so we can make a day of it.
Susie: Okay, so what is it? Is it like 9:00? 9:30?
Coop: Well, let’s say 9:00, that way we can be here by 9:30.
McKinley: Well, no, why don’t we say 9:30, and then make it your beeswax to be here by 9:30? I mean, we’ll all be in our late 20s by then. I just don’t see any reason why we can’t be places on time.
So here we are – we have arrived in our late 20’s and while we have some of those things we dreamed about way back when as we popped our zits, combed our greasy hair and gazed longingly at our N’Sync posters, we realize this whole mid-to-late 20’s thing was not exactly what we thought it was going to be. Instead of feeling empowered, confident and secure, we once again feel the uneasy twangs of adolescence we thought we had escaped when we discovered clinical strength deodorant and a proper face wash.
We may also find many of our long-term friendships fading or completely disintegrating, not only because of the natural progression of simply “moving on,” but that many of our old relational patterns and habits just don’t work for us anymore. Even our families sometimes cannot provide a source of comfort, in fact, we may feel somewhat estranged from them, as they try to navigate post adolescent/ pseudo adult status to full fledged adulthood.
Education and the professional world become vexing as well. Society gives us the illusion that once we graduate college, the professional world has its arms open and ready, eager to employ a new, fresh workforce. We think once we have that diploma in our hands our Cup O’ Noodles days are over. With the global economy in its current state, dreams of financial and professional stability appear to be far off.
American society also complicates our development by placing demands on where we should be in our relationships and careers. If we don’t have it all “together” by 30, then something just must be wrong with us!
So what is all of this? Aren’t these tortured days of growth and discovery supposed to be behind us? Our angst was supposed to fade with our acne!
Surprisingly enough the answer to our existential anxiety lies in the study of astrology; specifically the period of life that astrologists have named, “The Saturn Returns”, a concept that truly names what individuals in their late 20’s experience.
According to the website “The Saturn Sisters” (www.saturnsisters.com), Saturn takes 29 years to make one orbit around the sun. Due to its position in the solar system Saturn became associated with endings, limitations and Father Time. During the time of ancient astrological discovery most adults did not make it past 30, thus, the 29th year of life became an extremely anxious time, as their own mortality became a reality. Obviously in modern times most make it past their 30th birthday, so now, instead of someone’s 29th year of life being on the physical brink of death; rather our habits, mindsets and relationships experience an anxiety provoking transformation and re-birth. Though this can be challenging, many describe this time as a period of personal discovery and find a deeper and more whole sense of self. We arrive to our 30’s with a calmer and more profound view of ourselves and the world around us.
Though there is light at the end of the tunnel, some individuals can find it helpful to get support beyond friends and family through this sometimes painful, confusing and mysterious time. Gaining awareness during this time brings to light an ancient pull, an experience that is greater than our own lives. Transitionary periods such as this are a great time to seek therapeutic support, as a compassionate guide can help get you un-stuck.