Your story seems to me so familiar. I am too rather bookish and "intellectual". I have also become an atheist through the influence of the New Atheists (Richard Dawkins and the like) and the "philosophy" of Bertrand Russell in high school. Feeling superior and intellectual, I went to college (studying history) and became a radical old-guard feminist and a nihilist. After years of disappointment and heartache, a video of Jordan Peterson was the spark that started my waking up. First I became "red pilled" (being still an atheist, but having so-called "conservative values" and a libertarian (watching a lot of Stefan Molyneux). Due to Jordan Peterson I was no longer angry at religion and at my religious forefathers. He opened my heart a little bit. Then Solzhenitsyn made me admire Orthodoxy and feel awe at all the martyrs that died in the Gulag. Step by step, all the things I thought I knew (evolution, Science, progress, humanism, feminism, materialism, classical liberalism, constitutionalism etc. ) fell apart.
Yes we do seem to have a lot of similarities it seems. As well as some of things I mentioned, it was definitely doing a masters in English Literature which really broke the camels back so to speak and made me disillusioned with further academia.
I'd already got an interest in Christian religious history during my BA, along with critique of progressivism too, and so seeing how pervasive that stuff is in English departments especially was terrible and broke me at the time. I've read academic articles that are unbelievablely bad, to the degree that you think how on earth can this pass for legitimate scholarship when they clearly care more for their agenda and have contempt for the subject they analyse? English departments are the worst imo, probably because it is the most abstract as it deals with fiction. Then there are the critical philosophies which posit that meaning and truth do not exist but are simply "constructs". This allows them to effectively interpret as they like, how ever tenuous the argument it is. Although all the humanities have this problem, I found academic history to be not as bad, though not by much. But that was because I was more interested in late antique and medieval history, of which the barrier for entry is probably higher at the top level of academia as you will need Latin, Greek (maybe Old French and others), plus paleaography and archive skills, which might prevent some of this as you will need genuine scholarship skills not just "expertise" in critical theories. That seems more pervasive in scholarship on early modern history onwards I've found.
It has been 4 years since then as I've had to rethink myself really. I still love history though, and that is the primary reason that I am most drawn to the Roman Catholic Church or Orthodox Church.
On the point you mentioned about ego and intellectualism I definitely relate to that as I could be (and still can be!) egotistical and arrogant about it when I was a teenager, because I had no real self esteem and was very introverted. When I first got interested in Christianity again in 2016-2018, I was thinking of it still in a very... materialist way I.e. that there was metaphorical truth but not literal truth, which is basically where Peterson is as he does not truly believe in Christ. But, I was still holding on to my ego and intellectualism tendencies, which ultimately render God as a profound metaphor created by very wise men, rather than truly believing in the Lord. Considering how I, and a lot of others who say similar things particularly if they also saw Peterson's work, I believe this is a necessary stepping stone for some. When you are coming from a very athiest/modernist point of view, often you will simply be too closed off to even listen to genuine Christian sources because you feel too "above" them. Or, as I was with the bits of church fathers I've read, you just think of them as intelligent but simply historical artefacts rather than people who can teach you.
So, it's taken a few years, and because I didn't really believe before a bit of backsliding, but I feel that I've reached a point where I've... let go of myself enough to actually have faith. And there is definitely a difference. It is, of course, still work in progress.
I do feel a bit unsure though, as with regards praying and church services, I've not done that since I was 10 years old and that was Anglican (fairly high church Anglican I add, but not Anglo-Catholic), so I fo feel like "what do I do? Where do I even begin?" I imagine a lot of people can probably relate to that though.
I have started listening to chants and liturgy music though, which is not really a new thing as I've had interest in that and classical music before. I've also got the Hallow prayer app just to try out. Don't know if anyone has tried that before? It's mostly Catholic in orientation though.
As for my personal vocations, I also sort of consider becoming a nun as I am bookish so dedicating to religious study would sort of fit, but it's a very loose idea. And since my faith is not really strong enough, I can't say that it is the correct path for me yet. Marriage might be better since I have always had a fantasy of an ideal relationship as I think truthfully most girls/women do, but I've been disillusioned because of present days society's attitude to dating and casual sex, the latter of which I have never liked the idea of at all and the pervasiveness of it has made me adverse to relationships since I was a teenager. The over sexualisation of society is very unsettling.
But yeah... that's enough about myself We seem to be on pretty much on the same trajectory, and I'm sure there's probably a lot more young women than people realise who must also be similar.
Also, can anyone give me guidance on some reputable introductions to theology sources, and maybe suggestions of how I can start with prayer? As mentioned above, I do feel a bit daunted by how I can start somewhere.