You've heard of Mercury retrograde (and dreaded every second of it), but Saturn return? That's another story. Even if you check your horoscope daily, know your Moon sign, Venus sign, and Mercury sign by heart, and celebrate every zodiac season like it's your birthday, this planetary event has probably still flown under your radar.

But before you go blaming yourself for astrological negligence, don't worry, it makes sense. A Saturn return only occurs when you're around 29 or 30 years of age, says Linda Joyce, professional astrologer and author of The Star Within. So, if you haven't hit the big 3-0 yet, that pretty much explains why, in the words of Friends' Phoebe Bouffay, "This is brand new information!"

Okay, so what exactly is a Saturn return?

Quick astro lesson: A "return" is when a planet returns to the exact position it was in the sky when you were born, and every planet has one, explains Joyce. "Returns mark the closing of one cycle and the beginning of another," she says.

The Saturn return takes about 27 to 29 years to circle your chart and lasts for two to three years—which explains why you feel like your entire life is about to change the second you blow out those candles on your 30th birthday.

"This is a time of maturity, when fun and games have to give way to a greater vision of yourself and life," says Joyce. (Guess #adulting isn't just a cool hashtag after all...)

When Saturn returns, it's all about slowing down to self-reflect. That helps you grow up and see life for what it is, not what you want it to be.

"Saturn is the truth—the bare truth—but it’s something you can count on," she says. "It won’t lie to you to make you feel better, but it will guide and help you learn your lesson if you’re willing to do the work."

Maybe you're comfortable, but not exactly happy, in your relationship. Now's the time to be real with yourself—and your partner—so you can both start looking for something better.

If you end up single, thanks to your Saturn return, at least you'll know what your zodiac sign is like in bed:

preview for What Your Sign Says About What You're Like in Bed

Sounds rough, but "a Saturn return doesn’t have to be a difficult time, if you embrace it and listen to what is asked of you," says Joyce. "If you don’t, then life begins to become challenging." (Ahem, more challenging.)

You know how a party can go from being super fun to awkward AF if you stay there too long? Suddenly, everyone's gone, and you're stuck in a weirdly deep convo with the host and another rando who couldn't take the hint.

"What’s not working in your life becomes very obvious."

That party is now your twenties, and it's time to GTFO. "What’s not working in your life becomes very obvious," she notes. For instance, if you're a commitment-phobe or your FOMO convinces you to stay out crazy-late on a Tuesday night, then that could begin to get in the way of scoring that raise or even landing the job you want.

To make sure that doesn't happen, Joyce urges you to tune in during this time. "Saturn slows everything down because you need to see what has to be fixed," she explains. "If you don’t pay attention, you’ll face a crisis."

And that "crisis" can take any form—whatever is needed to make you see reality or where you need to improve, she adds. (Dun-dun-dun...)

When does a Saturn return actually start, and how long does it last?

If you were planning to live it up the last few years of your twenties, sorry, but think again. You feel your Saturn return at least two years before it happens, according to Joyce. (Just another joy of aging, right?)

But hey, it's not all bad: "The effects slowly fade away as you take charge of your life," she adds. So whatever's on your to-do list, move it to your done list.

Otherwise, you're in for a rude awakening. The less you listen to what Saturn is showing you, the greater the consequences of your "wrong" choices. It's like a hangover: The older you get without adjusting your ways, the worse it hits you.

If you do listen to your Saturn return, however, "a new awareness gradually seeps into your consciousness until you have an 'aha' moment," Joyce says. Basically, you'll have a moment of clarity in which you'll realize, "If I want to be successful, I have to commit to accomplishing X, Y, Z."

According to Joyce, Saturn is the teacher that wants you to pass their class... but only if you've done all your homework and aced your final. If you don’t, you fail. "You don’t get praise for what you’ve done right," Joyce adds. "Saturn's mission is to point out what’s not working and why." (Sorry, I don't make the rules.)

Because your Saturn return only lasts two to three years, ask yourself what you want to accomplish in that time. Then, start making moves.

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How should you deal with a Saturn return?

"Life becomes a series of lessons to learn," she explains. "If you’ve been learning them all along the way, then your Saturn return is a piece of cake...but if you’ve been avoiding responsibility and life itself, then your Saturn return can be painful."

Luckily, no matter how difficult it may be to take a brutally honest look at your life, you have the chance—at this astrological point—to turn things around. You might not get that opportunity again, so roll up those metaphorical sleeves and take your Saturn return seriously.

"Yes, it may take work, struggle, or sacrifice. After all, success requires you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and that’s what Saturn does," says Joyce.

Exactly which comfort zone that is depends on you. Your Saturn return can manifest itself in a ton of different ways, from a demanding task you must accomplish to a person who enlightens you. However the ringed planet shows up in your life, you'll leave the experience wiser and more capable of achieving whatever it is your soul desires.

Ultimately, Joyce says, "If you listen and learn from Saturn, you will begin to see it for what it is—your best friend."

Even if you don't believe in the Saturn return, or any cosmic intervention for that matter, guess what? Nothing bad can happen from quitting behaviors that aren't serving you and intentionally chasing your goals.

So...bring it on, S.