This Is Why I'm Celebrating My 'Jesus Year'

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
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Like many people in their 20s, I was afraid of turning 30. There are a lot of expectations that society has placed on 30. Like you’re supposed to have it all figured out by your 30th birthday. You’re supposed to feel like a grown-up. You’re supposed to have your shit together. So as you get closer to your 30th birthday, you’re steeped in the pressure of having the rest of your life planned.

But then you realize your 30s weren’t something to be afraid of. And a few years into your 30s, you realize how everything you’ve been told about your 30s is utter bullshit. Because no one has their entire lives figured out. We’re all just winging it.

I just turned 33, my so-called “Jesus Year,” otherwise known as the year of coming into your own.

I don’t remember where I heard the concept of 33 being your Jesus year, but I love it. For those who may not know, Jesus died when he was 33. That was a busy year for him, what with being the son of God and all. His friends sold him out, but he came into his own power, realizing his greatest potential.

Urban Dictionary describes the Jesus year as “the 33rd year of your life where you are reborn in some sense. Perhaps a mid-life crisis, perhaps an ego death, perhaps the year where you abandon old ways and start new.”

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It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. After getting past the anxiety of turning 30, you’re settling into your true self. Though it starts with 33, I feel it can apply to your mid- to late-30s as well.

By your mid-30s, you’ve survived those first few years of the decade. You’re no longer afraid of what 30 was supposed to be. Either you’ve figured your shit out, or you haven’t. But somehow not-having-your-shit-figured-out isn’t quite as scary as it was at 29. Because chances are, you’ve set yourself on the trajectory to have your shit together. If you have, you can take steps towards it everyday. But you can also give yourself some space to deviate from the map if you need to.

So far, every year of my 30s has been about growth in some way. As I approached my 30th birthday, I ended the relationship I had been in since I was 23. I started making the changes necessary to have a career, not just a job. When I was 31, I moved across the country, just me and my young son. A few months after turning 32, I began dating again for the first time in two years.

And now, my biggest goal for the next few years is maintaining everything I started, and building upon it.

I know for a fact in my late 20s, I couldn’t fathom what life would be in my 30s. I certainly couldn’t see it turning out the way it has so far. The emotional turmoil of turning 30 was eating me up inside, to the point where I couldn’t even acknowledge it. I was falling short of where I wanted to be. I was drowning in my own misery. Now I feel more confident than I ever have. Even though my life is hard, I’m finally feeling like I understand where I’m going.

Now that I’m 33, I think back to five years ago and so much has changed. Turning 30 gave me a whole new outlook. There were steps I was taking towards giving myself the life I deserved. I am constantly checking things off my life goals, and I’m doing so with a confidence that I’m finding as I settle deeper into my 30s.

I am not into celebrating my birthday, generally speaking. But I celebrated the hell out of turning 33. I spent a night with almost all of my closest friends. I drank way too much rosé and ate ice cream and laughed. For one night, I allowed myself to put me first — allowing myself to be celebrated. Getting to a point where I feel worthy of celebration is a testament to the confidence I’ve gained in my 30s.

My Jesus year is going to be the year of focusing on me and my needs. So far, my 30s have been all about being a mom. I’m okay with that, but now that my son is about to start kindergarten, I feel like I’m getting a little time back for myself.

One of the biggest ways I’m prioritizing my own needs is by starting to exercise again. And I’m not doing it strictly for my health — I’m doing it more to remind myself that I matter too. Even if it’s only one hour-long class a week, I’m doing something that only I will benefit from.

If I had to use one word to sum up my Jesus year, it’s this: growth. I want to continue to grow myself as a person and as a mother. Taking my career to the next step is important to me too. And cultivating the relationships in my life, romantic and friendships. For the first time in a long time, I have found friends who I can say with certainty really love and support me for who I am. They make me want to be a better friend, but forgive me when I’m not.

Celebrating your Jesus year doesn’t have to be something dramatic. Finding one thing about yourself that you want to improve is enough. And it doesn’t have to be something major either. It could be getting a tattoo you’ve always wanted. Maybe finally dying your hair a wild color, even though you’ve told yourself you’re too old. It could be buying a hot pink chaise lounge.

Or perhaps you’ll use your Jesus year as the year for great change. Ending a relationship that isn’t bringing you happiness anymore. Leaving the job you hate to find something you love. Moving to a city you’ve always loved.

There is no right way to do it. The only rule is you have to follow your heart.

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