Oh, Generation Z! You are my favorite of generations — and not just because I’m one of you. Gen Z will punch a racist in the face, yell at their university administration, and then shudder with anxiety while waiting in line to order coffee. We are so chaotic in our compassion, so resolute and capricious at the same time — truly a generation of young people trying their best to solidify burgeoning paths in a messy world.
An astrologer would say this mishmash of good intentions is because all of Gen Z shares a Neptune placement. Not just astrologers, but also anyone who’s ever had to learn the order of planets in elementary school, know that Neptune is one of the outer planets, billions of miles detached from the Sun’s warmth. As the eighth planet, Neptune orbits the Sun very slowly, only making a full rotation every 165 years. Across a generation of Earthlings born in adjacent (Earth) years, Neptune doesn’t move all that much. Generation Z is defined by birth years from 1997 to 2012. For nearly the exact same set of years, from 1998 to 2021, Neptune was in Aquarius.
Neptune rules the dreams, spirituality, and insights of a generation. It’s the third eye, the cultural zeitgeist, the energy that thrums underneath this eclectic herd of people tied together by time of birth. Aquarius is the visionary of the zodiac: eccentric, idealistic, and intellectual. Gen Z’s Neptune in Aquarius brings to mind all-inclusive humanitarianism and righteous indignation at existing evils — social activists in the fight for something greater than just one.
Harvard students, in many ways, embody the Gen Z, Aquarius Neptune mindset. We are the sweetest of friends, despite — or maybe because of — our history of friendship fumbles. Ask anyone at this school and they’ll tell you that the people are what make this campus home away from home. We eat all our meals together and study for classes together and stay up late talking about nothing together. We feel an immediate kindred affection with others bearing the crimson H, whether against Yale or on Housing Day.
We never shy away from our ideals, either. We get so invested in our arguments about modern First Amendment legal doctrine in section that we struggle to phrase our passion in words. We publish 650-850 word op-eds about the issues we really care about, that it seems no one else is talking about. We protest often and with fervor. We believe that Harvard can do better, that the world can do better, that we can do better. We are agents of positive change, or at least trying our best to enact it.
We do this all out of love. Aquarius to me has always been motivated by love in its purest, most abstract, intellectualized shape — what Plato would call the singular Form of Love. It’s love as a broad idea, that extends to people we haven’t even met and issues we aren’t yet familiar with, that we then apply to the specific people and situations we encounter in our lives. It’s part of why I love Gen Z so much: We love so fiercely, with no prior conditions.
With all the love our generation bestows upon others, we should love ourselves just as strongly. As Harvard students, we are prone to pinching and prodding at the parts of us we want to fix, berating ourselves for how we are perceived outside of our control, and blaming ourselves for multi-person problems. Please treat yourself with the same kindness and benefit of doubt that you afford others. You deserve it. Just like everyone else in the world, you are a human being; love is inherently your birthright.
When I started this column several months ago, I asked you to run away into the stars with me. I hope you have marveled at what you found alongside me. I hope you have fallen in love with yourself through astrology’s external view of yourself. I hope you will continue to love and cherish yourself.
I don’t know you, but I love you — because I’m part of Gen Z and I love everyone because the stars aligned just so at your birth to create the unique, beautiful person you are, because you are not the universe’s mistake but its greatest masterpiece. This is how I hope you love yourself as well: unconditionally.
Christina M. Xiao ’24, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Eliot House. Their column appears on alternate Mondays.