Like literally everyone, I am in a desperate and obsessive quest to know myself. Here are the main things I have learned so far: 1) I touch my hair a lot, 2) I sometimes wrap the cord of my headphones around my neck, 3) whenever I think about doing something socially unacceptable, I unconsciously mime stabbing myself in the heart, and 4) I will never stop screaming. These are important things to know, and they come up a lot, but I need to know more. Why not look skyward?
In the present moment, tools of self-knowledge proliferate. I could, if I wanted, go to BuzzFeed right now and find out What Song Ed Sheeran Should Perform At My Wedding and If My James Bond Opinions Actually Suck. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are “I Don’t Care” and “They Definitely Don’t.” I’m not looking for BuzzFeed trivialities: I want to know answers to the biggest questions, like “What’s Is Wrong With Me?” and “What The Fuck Is Going To Happen?” and “Why Am I Like This Like And How Did I Become This Way?”
To answer these sorts of questions, many are looking to the stars. Indeed, astrology is kind of having a moment. It appears in Tinder profiles and Tweets. It dictates dating choices and leaves people shook. Frankly, it’s not too hard to understand why: given a world in chaos (planetary environmental crisis and the collapse of the liberal order, if you haven’t been paying attention), a rejection of scientific positivism feels like the only way to find meaning.
Therefore, many are finding solace and meaning in a system wherein everything from your personality to your love life and your professional future can be determined by the ways the stars aligned in the moment of your birth. Star signs have become ironclad personality types, interpreted and explained by online astrologers who know. The sign who will take the longest to reply to your text (according to @poetastrologers, an account with 83,600 followers)? Aquarius. The best sign to dog sit, cat sit or keep your plants alive? Virgo. I happen to be an Aries. According to astrology.com, that means I’m a “natural leader of the pack,” and “unafraid of stepping into new terrain […] happiest in a spirited soccer match or engaging in the martial arts.”
Here’s the thing though: not really. For better or worse, I just can’t seem to get into it. While I may exhibit some Aries traits sometimes (I did take karate for four months in Kindergarten), I can’t help but find astrology reductive and inadequate. I’m not brave, I stay to the beaten path, and in a lot of contexts I’m happy to let other people take the lead. I feel like my personality changes with context in a way astrology just doesn’t allow for. Call me a snowflake, but I can’t accept that my personality is one of a type—like everyone, I have a unique set of experiences and personality predilections not explicable by the stars. Further, I can in no way rationalize that my being born in April has anything to do with my personality. I find no solace in stars.
Maybe, though, that itself is insight: I can’t get into astrology because I’m a huge fucking dork that can’t get over the stodgy rules of science and thinks I’m one in a billion.
Apparently, I can’t just be chill and do the fun star game that everyone else loves so much. Who knew? I didn’t, but I do now.