I first learned about the concept of Saturn return when I discovered the (aptly named) Almost 30 Podcast. It’s the astrological period in our lives when Saturn completes its orbit around the Sun, coinciding with the time of our birth, which happens every 29.5 years. It’s typically characterized by a) not-fully-learned lessons from the past catching up with you, and b) the realization that you need to get your shit together. Think: Quarter-life crisis.

It’s said that during our Saturn return, we either take off “soaring like an eagle, happy and financially free, or everything crumbles around us and we fall apart,” (typical of any major turning point). And, astrological phenomena or not, a study backed it: 72% of adults said this time of life was v. stressful. Alas, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – the Saturn return is this concept embodied. All that said, I’ll be turning 30 in a couple months, and my Saturn return has just started. I feel like the realizations have been coming in hot and fast.

Here are 6 things I would say I have learned for sure.

  1. Having my shit together doesn’t just mean saving money. It also means spending money day to day on things that make me feel genuinely supported in the present. I don’t want to be poor later on, but I don’t want to feel poor now, at 29. I want to, as Danielle LaPorte says, “thrive while I strive.” It’s about balance. Not sacrificing present me for future me, or vice versa.
  2. It’s okay to say no. Like, more than okay. Not saying no to shit I hate has only ever landed me in positions I hate. I have learned that being in a state of mostly always wanting to say no but not saying no is not sustainable. I’ll crack. That’s not a good look (or feeling).
  3. I can’t change people. No one can be changed. The boy I dated who didn’t believe in monogomy. The friend who always said the right thing but did whatever she wanted. The boss who always took advantage of me and thanked me profusely but lashed out whenever I said no. I really and truly can’t change anyone; I can only change what I choose to do and who I choose to be around.
  4. My body is perfect. It would be perfect at 180 pounds, at 100 pounds, at whatever weight it might be. This thought has never come naturally to me, but I understand now that it may not ever be as easy to move around as it is now. That makes it really easy to love myself.
  5. Saying “I don’t know” has only ever sent the wrong message to the universe. When it comes to the really brutal problems I worked on in my 20s, no amount of screaming about how impossible it is ever helped. Stopping that was the first step for me to crack codes that felt uncrackable. Not in a positive thinking way, but in a way that was like, “I’m not wasting time trying to convince the people around me that I’m struggling AF with something.” When we fight for our limitations, we get to keep them (said Evelyn Waugh).
  6. Momentum is pretty much the answer to everything. Depression, a lack of motivation, loneliness, bad days, lack of faith. For me, one small step, one small win at a time, and being super satisfied about that one thing, has been the thing that’s allowed me to build up to a place where I can manage. Because no one else can learn my lessons for me. I have to remind myself of this regularly. I’ve got this, even if I do it one step at a time.