Well, here we are. Deep in the midst of my Saturn Return.
Today as I enter the last year of my 20s, I can't help but think about how my entire life turned over in the past year. A lot has changed.
I left my cushy job of 5.5 years and was happily, terrifyingly unemployed for 10 months. I went through two breakups and cried harder and more frequently than I have in a very long time. I learned how to cook, dropped down to my college weight, took my yoga practice to the next level, cultivated deeper friendships, and most importantly, I invested a lot of time re-learning who I am and finding peace with myself.
I've spent most of my adult life being defined by things outside of me - my 9-year relationship, my job, my tendency for indulgence - and with all of those things stripped away at roughly the same time, I was forced to face what was left behind. Who am I apart from this person with whom I shared so much of my adulthood? How valuable are my skills outside of a company that had groomed me for leadership within its walls? In a very brief window of time, I walked away from the safe spaces I'd built over the years, areas I could count on for love and validation, in search of something different.
If I'm being totally honest, I've been feeling antsy for a few years now. But it's been an elusive, inexplicable feeling, too difficult to really name or to put into words - just this amorphous, floating suspicion that something's missing from my life. Looking back, even while living in San Francisco I questioned whether I was doing enough, or if I was just settling into an existence that was easy and comfortable. I was so anxious for change that not even moving to a new city could sate this hunger for something new.
While I've always carried a few identities - yogi, foodie, writer, leader - I've never felt one more strongly than the others. I thought being unemployed would give me the space to pursue my passions and crystallize a stronger identity, that I would wake up one day and suddenly know who I'm supposed to be for the rest of my life. Instead, having an abundance of uninterrupted free time led to more questions than answers - what the fuck am I doing with my life? What do I want to do? What do I have to offer to the world? To my relationships?
It's strange to admit, but dating and interviewing had the unintended effect of helping me reclaim my sense of self. Going through the exercise of developing my elevator pitch and speaking confidently about where I've been, what I've done, and what I'm interested in helped me zero in on the parts of myself that are most important to me, and I've learned how to lean into all of these parts - the good, the terrible, the weird.
I like the color black, reading about serial murders, and if my soul made a sound, it would probably sound a lot like Massive Attack's 1998 Mezzanine album. I practice yoga, eat at Michelin starred restaurants, write about myself daily, stalk everyone I meet, wear revealing clothing, send mean text messages when I'm upset, get ratchet to hip-hop music, and try to charm everyone into falling in love with me. I am the sum of all my strange, wonderful, disparate parts, and I no longer shrink myself to make others feel comfortable with the space I inhabit. Gaining this confidence has also helped me be more direct in all of my interactions - asking for what I want, being honest about my intentions, allowing myself to be vulnerable and accessible.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about how incredibly lucky I've been the last few months since my last shitstorm of depression. I have a crazy amazing new job at one of the most widely respected agencies in the world. I feel closer and more connected to the people in my life. I'm dating, but not actively, and I've reached a pleasant place where I'm no longer chasing definition. I'm no longer uncomfortable. I smile more and feel more at home in my skin, settling easily into this new life I've built for myself - a life shaped by hard work, constant reflection, and happy circumstance.
I'd like to give myself all of the credit for the growth I've achieved, but I owe a lot to the people around me - those who reached out and comforted me when I was feeling low, those who supported me during my job hunt, even those who hurt me, because without the hurt I wouldn't have forged the emotional resilience I have today. I don't think I'm over feeling depressed forever. As with any strong emotion or feeling it has its peaks and valleys, it ebbs and flows in and out of my life. But I can honestly say that this is the happiest and most settled I've felt in a really long time, and I've stopped questioning who I am or what I want or what I'm missing. Not that I have the answers, but I have an idea, which is more than I could say a few months ago.
Today I'm 29 and feel more myself than ever before.