I tried following my horoscope to get my shit together

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Reading Time: 6 minutes
School sucks. Work’s a bitch. Social life is nonexistent. Arts & Life editor Tyler Griffin looks to the stars for guidance

I was in first year when someone I had been talking to on Tinder unmatched me because I was a Pisces. We had been talking for a few days when the question finally came up. “What’s your sun sign?” With caution, I sent her a message back: “Pisces! wby?” In a few minutes, her name was gone from my life and messages forever. I think about her sometimes. It was the first time I had ever experienced zodiac-related rejection.

A million questions crossed my mind: Had she really hit “Unmatch” on my profile just because I was born in the days between Feb. 19 and March 20? Was our zodiac really that incompatible? Am I destined to be an overly romantic and emotionally unstable Pisces trope? Who am I to argue with the wisdom of the universe, I guess.

This was just the beginning of the Pisces-slander I would come to experience over the course of the next three years. Not just in my romantic life, but with friends, strangers I met at bars and on social media. Astrology has embedded its way into youth culture—and it looks like it’s here to stay.

Illustration: Skyler Ash

As we enter Pisces season, and the midway point of second semester, it feels like my life is in utter chaos—as is usual around this time of year. My grades are slipping (to put it lightly), my days are consumed by work and my social life is pretty much obsolete. So for The Eye’s workweek, from Wednesday to Monday, I let my daily horoscope take the wheel on my life to find out what the stars, and the people who unmatched me on Tinder, know that I don’t.

After searching around, I settled on using the daily horoscopes from horoscope.com. The site gives you a general, daily horoscope for your sun sign, in addition to daily horoscopes related specifically to your love life, career, finances and health. It also gives you star ratings out of five for things like ‘sex,’ ‘hustle’ and ‘vibe,’ and an emoji that was supposed to represent your mood for that day. I really had no idea what to do with the latter information, so I relatively ignored that part. 

On the first day, my horoscope told me I wasn’t being active enough. “Your health can suffer if you aren’t active. Fresh air, exercise and sunshine are vital to your well-being. Breathing exercises and running in particular are recommended. Chances are you will really enjoy yourself,” it read.

After a long day of work, I finally made it home around 11 p.m., physically and mentally exhausted and ready for bed. But my god-forsaken horoscope said I should go for a run. I put on some joggers, running shoes and a light coat, and went out for a 20-minute run around the block. 

It was awful. I almost slipped six times, the cold air burnt my lungs and my face was frozen by the time I got back. But despite being cold and even more physically exhausted, my mind was a bit more alert and energized. Okay stars, you win this round. 

Illustration: Skyler Ash

Tara Greene, a Toronto-based psychic and astrology consultant, attributes the recent rise in interest of astrology among young people to how easily accessible it is online. “A lot of people are taking online courses, reading more or just getting into [astrology] themselves because there’s so much more information available.”

Zodiac sign memes now dominate on Twitter, where astrology accounts, like @poetastrologers, provide daily horoscopes with a literary twist and often amass hundreds of thousands of followers. Often we hear jokes about Mercury going into retrograde and categorize the signs as quite literally anything from cat breeds to Panic! At the Disco songs. 

Bronwyn Madsen, a fifth-year graphic communications management student and fellow Pisces, told me astrology has always been her guide through difficult times. When she was dealing with a bad relationship situation, and her friends had told her things weren’t going to work out, Madsen took to reading her horoscope daily to point her in the right direction. As the weeks went on and Madsen closely followed the advice of her horoscope, the relationship slowly began to fix itself. “We’re actually dating now,” she tells me. 

Illustration: Skyler Ash

Aira Serrame, a second-year biomedical engineering student and Cancer sun, would only associate with signs compatible to hers when she was in high school. Whenever she met someone, the first question she would ask was about their zodiac sign. “The universe would cut the connection off one way or another,” Serrame said. “Why bother wasting my time?”

Since she’s come to Ryerson, Serrame noticed she was having a tough time making friends because she was listening to her horoscope every day. “It limits me so much from knowing what’s out there and from building connections wherever I go.”

Serrame has since stopped letting astrology dictate her relationships with people, using it instead as a tool that gives her different perspectives on situations that arise in her life.

On the third day, horoscope.com told me “the last thing you need right now is to follow other people’s advice when it concerns your personal life,” which is a strange sentiment for a website that is literally giving me advice concerning my personal life. 

Gabriele Contessa, an expert in pseudoscience and philosophy professor at Carleton University, teaches a course that differentiates astrology from astronomy. In a time when many have rejected a religious view of the world in favour of a scientific one, Contessa told me in an email he suspects people turn to astrology to explain aspects of human existence left out by the secular age.

Illustration: Skyler Ash

As the week dragged on, my horoscopes became less and less relevant to how I was feeling and the situations I was in. My ‘vibes’ rating stayed below three stars even when I was having a particularly great day. Every other day it told me to get some exercise or re-examine my goals in life—I could only handle so many runs and existential crises. When I woke up hungover on Saturday morning and in need of a coffee, my horoscope told me to “stay far, far away from the caffeine.”

I called Greene to ask why my horoscope was suddenly so far off, and she told me that sites like horoscope.com might be a little too linear and basic to properly represent my situation. Madsen echoed this sentiment. She compared horoscopes to a church service; you don’t go looking for information that applies specifically to your life, just for general guidance.

“I don’t go to [horoscopes] expecting a person on the other end to tell me exactly what I need to do,” she told me. “If I wanted to do that I would just go see a therapist.”

On the fifth day, it was beginning to look like the answers to the glaring problems in my life weren’t written in the stars. At first, my horoscope forced me to take a step back each day, to breathe, learn a new craft or get some much-needed physical activity. It felt good to take some time for myself in the middle of all the schoolwork and commuting in a busy city—a feeling that lasted for 20 minutes every time. I’m still behind in schoolwork, work is still tough and I still haven’t checked in with my friends in some time. 

The zodiac promises to bring order to our lives by telling us that our personality and fortune can be explained by the alignment of distant stars. As an overly romantic Pisces, it’s a tempting fantasy—but it absolves us of control over our own lives. If you need help, reach out to your family, friends or professors. You probably won’t find the answer to your problems in your daily horoscope. 

Fuck Geminis, though.

Photo/illustration: Elana Emer

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