Going into the new year, there are three things I’m ashamed of: my miserably poor sense of direction, the sticker of drunk Ross Geller on my laptop and my habit of checking Co–Star religiously at midnight.
That last note on my severely condensed list is relatively new. In the past, I’ve been quick to disregard astrology as rather silly, and while I’m still hesitant to believe in it, I’ve learned that a lot of silly things can still have a point. (“Do you enjoy it? Then it’s not silly,” my roommate said when I confessed my curiosity with the astrology app to her. She took it back after I forced her to download it. Very earth sign of her.)
Before I found interest in astrological signs, I turned to other signs for subsidiary guidance or even solace. I find comfort in clovers and double rainbows. I get too attached to wandering ladybugs. And I’ve always thought of black cats as good luck. These signs fittingly appear at the most unexpected times, and sometimes when you need them most. I like to think their serendipitous timing is part of their beauty.
There’s a similar felicitous beauty to the new year, to the hope that comes with new beginnings. Like many people, I notice myself reflecting more at the start of the new year. While it’s a period of forecasted change, it’s also a time of unnecessary pressure. Suddenly, now is the time to remake yourself. To start over.
As much as I long for a clean slate, I end up dragging along unmet resolutions every new year. I understand failing to challenge bad habits or break lazy routines isn’t a unique experience; for everyone, the new year inevitably sets the same trap of fashioning unrealistic expectations.
Halfway through January, I’ve already splintered most of my halfhearted resolutions, but I’ve noticed I haven’t quite outgrown the contemplative mindset that the new year tends to only momentarily pamper. I don’t consider myself a spiritual person, but with 2023 kicking off, I’ve found myself more frequently reflecting on how to connect with the world around me as well as better understand my sense of self.
Astrology intersects with this reflection in some ways, though my interest and knowledge in horoscopes hasn’t ventured too far outside of Co–Star. While I don’t subscribe to it myself, I’ve come to understand people’s faith in planetary predictions. I appreciate the simplicity it can bring to life, even though it can’t unravel every complexity.
As an overthinker, I recognize that sometimes it’s pleasant to lean into pretending that the stars guide the way. Instead of viewing it as an unimpeachable scientific celestial study, I consider astrology as more of a purposeful way to let go. Acknowledging horoscopes isn’t about disregarding responsibility, but rather about relieving stress. It’s a bit easier to willingly disassociate when you wink at destiny.
Showing interest in astrology often comes with judgment, which I wholeheartedly accept — and at this point, I know enough about astrology for people to poke fun at. I’ve started working astrology into conversation the same way that one person will bring up their summer Europe trip or big tech internship. I’m happy with astrology functioning as a trivial conversation starter (even happier with it as a way to scare off straight men), but once in a while, a mindful nod to horoscopy can be honestly worthwhile.
Some people turn to the stars in hopes that they can learn to expect the unexpected, but to me, astrology is less about predictability and more about acceptance. Whatever happens, happens. My therapist (who, I recently discovered, is also a Gemini) reminded me that everything happens for a reason, and in that same vein, astrology can help me fall into the future more comfortably. It’s about trusting that everything will be okay, not about following Co–Star’s questionable Do and Don’t lists.
But I’ll admit, sometimes it’s just fun to follow along.
Last spring, Co–Star was especially cruel to me on Friday the 13th (“do: getting over it”), and it unfortunately had turned out to be a warranted warning. A hard conversation had led to some mellow heartache. The app showed some pity, patting me on the shoulder with suggestions of “long walks” and “sunsets.”
I felt like the pouty star of some teen drama canceled by Netflix after one season, but I set out to explore northside alone at sundown. Phone left at home, I followed power lines silhouetted against red, watching pink shadows defrost across houses and gardens. Traffic dwindled in the distance.
Though I had my designated Silly Little Mental Health Walk route, I wanted distraction rather than familiarity. As blue dusk swept across Berkeley, I gave in to my poor sense of direction and opted to take roads I hadn’t walked before. And I felt surprisingly happy getting lost.
As I meandered through the hills, far from home now, my gaze abruptly flicked to the other side of the avenue. There, a black cat crossed the street toward me, flashing its yellow eyes at me for a moment. I watched it slink its way under a gate into a backyard. The sun left, too, so I turned around to walk back home.