Horoscopes are hogwash and zodiac signs are poppycock.
There, I said it, albeit with a trace of trepidation.
Not because I’m wary of jinxing my cosmic fortune, but because I’d hate to upset the many superstitious individuals who I know would disagree.
Reports have shown that millennials have been increasingly seeking solace in the stars, with over half of young Americans believing that astrology is scientific.
I, too, know starry-eyed peers who religiously digest horoscope readings and memes, and those who swear by astrology apps like AstroStyle and Co-Star for their daily forecast.
Not to mention the happy couples who consult fengshui masters on their bazi (or eight characters in Chinese astrology) to pick auspicious wedding dates and name their newborns, even if it means the poor child ends up with an obscure moniker that no one can pronounce.
But I’d risk incurring their wrath and say it anyway: All this stargazing gibberish has to stop.
Yes, I concede that zodiac signs can offer comfort and direction, especially in times of need.
We’ve all had inexplicably horrible moments, and sometimes the only way to cope is to ascribe them to providence.
At times it’s pure entertainment and casual superstition. Who doesn’t want to know what colour of underwear to buy for Chinese New Year?
Despite the hype about mythical creatures, birth dates and blood types, I struggle to comprehend why people would rely on nebulous, predestined factors to wander through this complicated journey we call life.
But I have good reason to believe that more often than not, zodiacs deliver self-fulfilling prophecies, serve as scapegoats for our trials and tribulations, and curtail our free will.
Once upon a time, I was that teenager who would lap up horoscope divination and feel my oats every time a real-life encounter marginally matched a platitude-laden prognosis.
“Today you are likely to experience some conflict.” How accurate – I battled with my bowels in the morning. Or was it that grumpy auntie who tut-tutted me on the train?
“Something good is coming your way.” I mean, I’ve been waiting for 10 years but I guess they never really specified when.
The romantic in me wanted so badly to believe that kismet is and can be poetic – that some greater power out there is wholly invested in my well-being.
It wasn’t long before I realised that these readings, like those fortune cookie slips, are so vague and generic they could literally apply to anyone. Even my hamster.
So it surprises me that some people have taken their trust in astromancy to the extreme.
The Straits Times recently reported that more singles are turning to the likes of blood type and zodiac sign dating to meet The One. This is despite scientists debunking the association between blood type and personality, as well as star sign and behaviour.
Once I came across a dating profile which steadfastly declared “no rats, dragons, snakes and oxes”, referring to four of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.
Being a dragon and therefore “incompatible”, I resisted the urge to inform this person that the plural of ox is oxen.
Speaking of dragons, I am a living, breathing specimen of how superstition can shape important life decisions, like having a kid in the doubly auspicious Dragon Year – 1988.
In Chinese culture, Dragon Year babies are bound for success, while the number eight portends prosperity.
While I’m not insisting that all parents (including mine) were kiasu and strategically chose when to put a bun in the oven, the numbers speak for themselves.
There were 52,957 live births in Singapore in 1988, compared with an annual average of about 41,000 in the preceding decade. Despite our declining fertility rate, subsequent Dragon Years of 2000 and 2012 also saw birth rates spike.
But being in a baby boom cohort is not the peachiest experience. My fellow dragon babies would attest that, with more people vying for limited spots, everything became more competitive – from getting into your school of choice to seeking a job.
Ironically, a National University of Singapore study found that dragon babies don’t necessarily perform well in life, with lower university admission scores and lower monthly incomes.
So, despite the hype about mythical creatures, birth dates and blood types, I struggle to comprehend why people would rely on nebulous, predestined factors to wander through this complicated journey we call life.
Psychologists have attributed astrology’s popularity to its ability to provide some semblance of order in a chaotic world. A 1982 study by Graham Tyson found that people who consult astrologers did so to cope with stress.
But I find it hard to gain genuine relief from something that hasn’t been proven. In fact, I’ve seen astrology being abused as a convenient crutch – something to blame when things go awry.
Bad day? Mercury is in retrograde. Boyfriend cheated then dumped you over text? Scorpios sure know how to sting.
Lady boss has been harsh on you? She was born in the ferocious Year of the Tiger, that’s why.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, one of the most famous and hot-headed Geminis, has said in interviews that her controversial nature stems from her star sign.
A friend of mine swore off dating Aquariuses after his relationships with three of them ended terribly. He has gone so far as to categorically dismiss anyone born under the air sign.
“They are airy and aloof and happy to float away without you,” he said, bitterly convinced that these romances failed due to astrological clashes beyond his control.
All these strike me as excuses. Not to mention that it is virtually impossible for everyone with the same star sign or zodiac animal to experience an identical fate.
Sure, zodiac purists speak of distinguishing factors like your rising sign, ruling celestial body, time of birth and element of nature.
Fire horses are smart and energetic while water horses are emotional and impatient, they’d tell neigh-sayers like me.
But break it down as much as we want and one question still stands: How much of life do we believe is already written in the stars, and how much is yet unwritten?
This enigma of fate versus free will has existed for eons, but one interpretation from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar resonates with me.
In trying to turn his fellow politician Brutus against Caesar, Cassius points to their position as Caesar’s perceived inferiors, urging Brutus not to submit to circumstances.
“Men at some time are masters of our fate,” he says. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
Although Cassius’ intentions were less than noble, his words were proven by his actions.
They end up assassinating Caesar and showing that, for better or for worse, humans do not always have to resign to their preordained fate.
While opinions may differ, depending on one’s religious and cultural beliefs, I think we can all agree that we, too, possess agency in our lives. From what to post on Instagram to saying yes to the dress, we wield some degree of control over our future.
To leave these decisions to the animals and constellations under which we were born is to relinquish this precious privilege and limit our possibilities.
That is something I refuse to do.
I refuse to believe that a Pisces can never love me; I don’t buy that all dogs and sheep are my nemeses.
If I make questionable life decisions, like singing karaoke till 6am then stuffing my face with an Egg McMuffin and hash brown, I am not pinning any blame on the outgoing and impulsive Gemini in me.
No, Naomi. I am taking full responsibility and hopefully, like Cassius, Brutus, Zac Efron and Zendaya, rewriting the stars so this catastrophe does not happen again.