TWIL: About the "Jesus Year"

As it turns out, I live under a rock.

A week ago, the wonderful Issa Rae turned 33 years old. Twitter – where I seem to be spending a lot of my time – sent her an abundance of birthday wishes. Among those were well-wishes for her “Jesus Year.” At first I thought this was some obscure reference I may have missed from the Awkward Black Girl days and didn’t think much of it. But I started seeing more and more people talking about it, so I assumed it was more significant.

I had no idea what a “Jesus Year” was. Usually I can figure these things out, like when I figured out your “Jordan Year” happened at 23, because obviously. But, my brain couldn’t make the connection between Jesus and age 33. Maybe it’s more obvious to some people, but, I think I just don’t know enough details about Jesus. I felt like, with so many people talking about it, I should have known already, so I didn’t want to ask anybody.

Like the suburban mom I’m destined to become, I ended up at Urban Dictionary. Apparently, your “Jesus Year” is supposed to be the year you get yourself together, so to speak. One article describes it as a “sharable, spiritual, not-quite-midlife crisis.” In another article, one woman quit her job, sold her stuff, and hopped on a plane to another country. It’s called as such because, apparently, Jesus was at the height of his thing when he was 33, right before he was crucified. The idea, from what I’ve gathered, is that when you turn 33, you’re supposed to take a spiritual journey of some sort that grounds you and gives you some perspective about who you are. It’s supposed to be your Eat, Pray, Love year, basically.

The earliest mention I could find of the term “Jesus Year” was 2012 – not a very long time ago, but long enough for me to have heard of this concept before.

It’s a nice concept. I’m still not 100% sure of the connection to Jesus, but, I guess it's the inclusion of the element of spirituality. But I wonder how many people actually “do a Jesus Year” when they hit that age. What if you missed it? Is it acceptable to do it at 40? Can you get a head start and do it 26? Does it only last the one year, or do you take what you’ve learned and apply whatever changes you make going forward?

While some of us can't afford to quit our jobs and hop a plane to another country, I love the idea of taking time to figure yourself out. Also, who doesn't love milestone birthdays?


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