I hear from a lot of people at Harvard that they are profoundly lonely. Which is ironic, in a Greek tragedy, horror movie, “I know this is going to happen but god, I can’t turn away and it makes me want to scream” kind of way. All these lonely people packed together like sardines, in tiny dorms and dining halls and classrooms! Befriend each other! You have demand and supply in spades, so why is the market not working itself out?
Unfortunately, we are not economics’s rational actors. We are bidirectionally afraid. We shy away from putting ourselves out there because being perceived is a whole mortifying ordeal of being known. What if you share the truest core of who you are, and other people don’t like it? Your inner child can’t take the rejection.
At the same time, we skitter off instead of reciprocating when other people allow us a glimpse into them, because what even is the socially optimal move? Do you tell your own story, supply emotional support, or quickly acknowledge the overshare and move on? What if you’re moving too fast? What if they didn’t even mean for you to see that part of them and now it’s just awkward? There’s just so much that can go wrong.
Forming relationships, especially at Harvard, is a repeated dance of give and take. We are balancing on tightropes, beating around bushes, and extending olive branches with shaky hands that we hope others will take. We’d love to grab a meal! We just have to check our jam-packed calendars first so we seem like well-adjusted, busy bee Harvard students, instead of desperately lonely — never mind the fact that the only person we’ve seen in days is the night guard at Lamont.
This precarious relationship between “appearing too eager and scaring people off” and “appearing too apathetic so no one ever tries to approach you” is enshrined in the sky, in Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter and Saturn are your social planets, but in opposite ways: Jupiter is growth; Saturn limitation. Jupiter is every new experience you have with a new person that teaches you something about yourself. Jupiter shakes hands with strangers and thinks “what an adventure!” Meanwhile, Saturn restricts, inhibits, curls inwards, and hides from the public eye. Saturn watches friend groups chattering away over dinner and mosh pits at parties from a distance, with wary apprehension.
There’s inherent tension here, even before we consider the aspect of opposition. Just as planets in a natal chart can line up right on top of each other in conjunction, they can line up directly across from each other, in opposition. Opposition has the energy of meeting eyes with your archenemy across the room; it’s charged. The two polar opposite signs at the ends of the opposition push and pull at each other, both vying to assert their own perspective. With Jupiter opposite Saturn, the tug-of-war that already exists between these two antithetical methods of socialization becomes even more intense, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing.
Astrologers call opposition a “hard” or “challenging” aspect, and for good reason — it’s hard to deal with! But opposition — both the type inherent to Jupiter and Saturn as contrary social planets, and the type between any two planets with 180 degrees between them — isn’t bad just because it’s hard. So many things at Harvard are hard: comping clubs, taking midterms right after Harvard-Yale, the miles-long trek to the Quad. But we follow through with them regardless, because the end goal, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — doing cool work in a cool student organization, school spirit and passing grades, beloved friends in the Quad — is well worth it. Likewise, friendships and socialization at Harvard are hard, but you will end up content.
You just have to harmonize your oppositions. By the order of signs, it just so happens that those in opposition always share at least one quality: modality. Both are either cardinal, the enthusiastic initiators of the zodiac; fixed, stable, and resolute signs that you can always lean on; or mutable, free spirits who go with the flow. For every opposition, there is a balancing point on which opposing planets can lean, such that the pendulum of their tossing and turning doesn’t tangle so much. In even the most drastic of opposites, there is commonality.
There’s a center of gravity between the extreme ends of the social interaction spectrum: outgoing, enthusiastic Jupiter, and aloof, skeptical Saturn. It’s different for everyone, but you’ll find it because it all comes from you, written in the stars from your birth. Take it easy. Friendships at Harvard are hard to navigate. But you have the map to the treasure right there, inside of you.
Christina M. Xiao ’24, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Eliot House. Their column appears on alternate Mondays.