The Shift: Thoughts On Seasons, Birthdays And Seeking Out Change

Nubby Twiglet | The Shift

Last week, I started thinking about Fall and how these months are such a pivotal time for me. Maybe it’s because my birthday is on Sunday the 14th (I’ll be 33!) and I feel like I need to get as much accomplished as possible before I check off another year. Maybe it’s because I sense the feeling of heading “back to school” (even though that has long since passed for me) and I feel that collective sense of hustle and drive set in after a long summer of slowing down and exploring…I’m not really sure.

This year has felt really good though, unlike some of those in the not so distant past. I’m not a huge astrological buff but I do believe in Saturn Return. At the time it hit in my life, I actually didn’t even know what it was until I felt my ass getting collectively whooped all at once by the universe and my aunt offhandedly mentioned it in a conversation.

I also clearly remember that right as I was turning 30, I was freelancing at a great little design studio and making great money but something felt off. The week of my birthday, I had a mini breakdown one morning. It hit me hard because I was designing full time, my blog was going strong and technically on paper, I was living my dream. Perceptions aren’t everything, though. I wasn’t content. Even though I was designing professionally, it was mostly for sports brands. It was a great job…but it wasn’t my dream job. No matter how many times I sucked up those feelings and told myself to just be thankful for what I had, it didn’t change how I felt. I felt like I was living someone else’s life.

Around that time, I made a conscious decision: I was going to hustle as hard as I possibly could. I wasn’t getting any younger and if I didn’t create the life I wanted, it was my own damn fault.

I began taking on more freelance projects that felt good. Lifestyle and beauty brands like Shien Cosmetics, Rock n Roll Bride and Olivine Atelier were my sweet spot. I worked nights and weekends on client projects that I loved while showing up by day to put in the hours that guaranteed a sense of stability while I carved out my niche and style.

It wasn’t a sudden shift; I think it took about two years to see things come full circle. I got more comfortable with change as I moved onto an intensely inspiring agency that burned the candle at both ends (I still remember the first day I showed up — I didn’t walk back out to the parking lot until midnight!) and then, onto another agency that I’d been dreaming of working at for years. I kept learning, saving, taking on new clients and dreaming about that next step to stay motivated.

The more energy I put in, the more quickly things began to unfold. What I learned is that the universe will kick your ass when things aren’t right to help you shake them loose but it will also conspire to help you when you put your effort towards the right things. Towards the end of 2012, I’d co-founded The Blogcademy and we’d taught our first class in New York City. An 8 page feature followed a month later in Computer Arts. And then in 2013, I quit all outside work cold turkey to launch Branch. That cycle of uncertainty I’d began feeling right before 30 was completed and replaced with new things that felt like a better fit.

Birthdays come and go and there’s no way to turn back the clock. There’s so much opportunity out there and the biggest lesson I’ve learned that there’s never going to be a “right time” to go after it. Planning can only take you so far…and then it’s time to give your dream everything you’ve got.

Photo: Taken in Berlin by Shell De Mar.

26 Responses to The Shift: Thoughts On Seasons, Birthdays And Seeking Out Change

  1. Ashley says:

    Great post. You’ve done so great for yourself, and you’re still my #1 inspiration to keep going! I’m finally going full force with my own freelance side business, while working professionally as a web designer full time. It is a LOT of work! But I feel the same way you did back at the sports agency, not fully fulfilled! Maybe my Saturn Return is kicking in… I’ll be 28 this Oct. 2nd! Eeeek! I hope so! Great post, again. This motivates me to keep going and that it is possible with hard work and determination!

    • Shauna says:

      Ashley: Thanks so much for your kind words! And I saw that your new business is live — get em, girl! You have so much drive and energy, you’ll get exactly what you want. Amazing things are in store for you. :)

  2. Gala says:

    I love this post, and I’m totally with you. Saturn return is what made me start teaching my Salons and is what is kicking my ass into writing this book! Sometimes it looks awesome from the outside, but it’s not enough. I think Saturn return is about delivering on your potential, and living up to what the universe has in store for you! Okay, enough hippie stuff 😀 xoxoxo

  3. Hata Trbonja says:

    I am 38 this year and I remember feeling that need/anxiety to do something with my life. I worked like a robot and thought that was the way to succeed in life. Boy I was wrong.
    After I had my not so small breakdown, it caused me make a major shift in my life.
    I guard my happiness like a hawk now and do not compromise when it comes to my quality of life. I moved half way across the world to make my dreams come true and life has never been better and my soul never so peaceful.
    We hold that power within us to change when the universe signals us that the time is right. It sounds like you listened.
    PS: everything gets better in your 30’s!

  4. Ms. Mauikai says:

    Hey Shauna,
    This post could not have come at a better time. Seriously! I’m just about to turn 30 (on October 8th, just a few days after the D.C. session of the Blogcademy – and the day I’m launching my site!!), and I’ve been feeling a MASSIVE shift (if not several) in my life lately. It’s been a little unnerving, kind of exciting, all sorts of everything at the same time, but I know there’s signs pointing to things that won’t be making it into this next decade of my life, and others my soul is saying it needs more of. Lots more.

    Thanks for sharing your insight and putting your energy out there so beautifully and consistently. It’s really inspirational and I’m so looking forward to meeting you and finding out more about your journey to living your dreams, no matter what the growing pains may be like.

    Love, light and juicy badassery for your birthday weekend!


  5. Cole says:

    Such a lovely post! You are truly an inspiration and your work is beautiful. I’m currently stuck in the planning phase, as I’m still so uncertain as to which direction to go in. I often feel lost and confused but I’m still working on things. Thanks for sharing your insight!

    • Shauna says:

      Cole: Give yourself that time to search and explore and feel out what that next step is. So valuable to just be in the moment and think about all the possibilities and opportunities. Good luck!

  6. Lauren says:

    This post came at such a right time for me.

    I’ve been working so hard this past month since reality kicked me in the butt on my 25th bday. I’ve been going strong since, and seeing some progress. I’ve also just recently had a design of mine completely ripped off – something that would’ve knocked a younger me so much that I’d stop doing extra work. But now I feel like my night work is leading me in the right direction, and that these little feelings need to be squashed!

    • Shauna says:

      Lauren: It’s always hard to see your work blatantly ripped off (It’s happened to me a bunch of times and still stings) but if anything, it’s also flattering — shows that you’ve got a defined style and it’s “inspiring” certain folks. Good luck with everything!

  7. Daffny says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I understand and relate to everything you just said. One of my biggest dreams was to meet my prince charming and have a family. Now I have an amazing husband and three equally amazing little ones. Trust me, I never thought I would have three children. Then after the birth of my youngest (I was 34) I realized that I needed a change. Dreams have always kept me moving forward and always gave me the strength to keep going even when other things were saying not to. So I started to delve into the vintage lifestyle and I began my blog. Now almost four years later, I am at another crossroad. I love being a housewife and mother and that is my biggest joy but I need a change. On the inside. I need a shift. I am taking Gala’s self love class this month and doing her bible course at home and hoping that I find that what I need to make the changes. There are so many goals and dreams I have and time doesn’t wait for anyone. I am heading to 40 soon and I want to make the most of every moment. I love this post and thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are most certainly not alone :)

  8. Megan says:

    So inspiring, I get goose bumps reading this because I feel like I relate so closely! You’re truly awesome and inspire me to keep going!! ( always have ) <3

    • Shauna says:

      Megan: I think we all relate to each other more than we realize…and the more we can help each other though the tough times, the better. Good luck with everything!

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  10. Ayanna says:

    I love this post Shauna, and I can definitely relate! I went through the same thing about 5 years ago and now I feel like I am going through it again! Guess I’d better find out what Saturn’s Return is!! …and keep pushing while I’m at it! Thanks for sharing your story! xx

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