For 10 Days I Pretended the Straits Times Horoscope was Real
Top image credit: Greg Rakozy. All other images from Broadly.

Some of the most intelligent people I know wholeheartedly believe in, of all things, horoscopes. They subscribe to sign compatibility, swear by daily predictions, and even blame their erratic mood swings on “Mercury in retrograde”.

Many people think horoscopes are utter bullshit, but I suspect many also consider them self-fulfilling prophecies. To test my theory (and possibly because I have nothing better to do), I decide to commit 10 days to tailoring my life according to my horoscope in the Straits Times Life section.

Whether this is meant to be a critique of the Straits Times or horoscopes in general, I’m not too sure.

Monday, 18 Dec

“Your affinity with nature is heightened, so go outdoors. Your good energy helps you see life in a new way.”

After lunch, I head to the Botanic Gardens. It is 3:45pm when I step out of the MRT into the blazing heat. Because I have work to finish by tonight, I try to find a spot with a power socket. Of course I am unsuccessful. This is a bloody garden.

At the end of an hour, I have a tan and zero work has been done.

Good energy? What good energy?

Tuesday, 19 Dec

“You are connected to your emotional side, so reach out to a family or a friend. Troubles can be soothed over.”

Today, I help a couple of friends with a video shoot. There are no troubles that require my help to “soothe over”. Halfway through the day, I wonder if I should create trouble just so I can “soothe [it] over”, or drop some friends text messages with unsolicited advice for their problems. I do neither; I may be committed to this story but I still want to keep my friends.

At night, I go for the Marina Bay Carnival with a taxi driver. Our conversation ends up more meaningful than I expect. Surprise surprise, the encounter leaves me feeling “connected to [my] emotional side”.

Wednesday, 20 Dec

“Make sure all your basics are covered. Weirdness can wait another day.”

The thing with daily horoscopes is they’re so vague that they can mean anything. Today, I take it that I can’t do anything spontaneous.

So I simply ensure I tick off everything on my to-do list: meet a photographer at Rex Cinemas for a story, finish writing that article, and sort out my monthly expense claims. All in all, it is a boring, basic day.

Weirdness is averted.

Thursday, 21 Dec

“Someone is challenging your authority and that could mean you fight back more harshly than you mean to.”

After yesterday’s uneventfulness, I hope for some drama today. Counterproductively, I end up extra careful with my temper precisely because I’ve read my horoscope.

No one challenges my authority the entire day. No one disagrees with anything I say or do. Even the uncle at the cai png stall doesn’t bat an eyelid when I reject his suggestions. He accedes to my request for eggplant for the third day in a row.

My horoscope prediction isn’t accurate today. That is a good thing.

Friday, 22 Dec

I don’t read my horoscope before leaving home today because I want to see if the day pans out as it states.

At the end of the day, I recall how I finally manage to convince a couple of colleagues to get on board with the idea of a Christmas-themed photoshoot. This is despite their reluctance over the past few weeks. Whether they uphold their promise remains to be seen, but I revel in this mini victory while I can.

I finally read my horoscope: “You may not be able to get many others on board your crazy schemes, but once you start seeing some success, they should join in.”

Saturday, 23 Dec

“Your friends are there for you, so kick back and let them help out, even if you feel as if you owe them too much already.”

I do nothing except attend a wedding at night with a few friends, all of whom I’ve known since I was 13. I suppose the length of our friendship qualifies for me owing them “too much already”. At the wedding banquet, I decide to “kick back” and let everyone do everything for me. They pour me coffee, buy and serve me food, take photos for me, and hold the lift doors open for me.

I am living the life. If horoscopes were like this everyday, I would take them very seriously.

Sunday, 24 Dec

“You need to unburden yourself of a secret that has been eating away at you. Talk to a friend about it.”

At City Harvest’s Christmas service, I decide to be honest with a church member about being disinterested in Christianity. She is not a friend, and neither is this a secret that’s been eating away at me. But it feels good to “unburden”.

For the first time in 27 years, I feel liberated from the burden of trying to be a Christian.

Monday, 25 Dec

“You do not have enough information to make your big decision just yet. Cloister yourself away and do some research.”

I don’t know what “big decision” my horoscope thinks I am going to make. I don’t plan to get married, get a home, or get pregnant. My life’s biggest decision now involves deciding what dishes I should get with my cai png. 

Nonetheless, I take the latter part of the horoscope very seriously. After Christmas lunch with my relatives, I happily “cloister [myself] away” in my room for the rest of the day. I also “do some research” on important things, such as what Netflix show I should watch next after already binge-watching for four hours.

Tuesday, 26 Dec

There is no horoscope for today because there are no papers today. How will I live?

Wednesday, 27 Dec

“Your intensity enhances your relationships and makes life sweeter for everyone.”

I make it to today despite yesterday’s lack of a horoscope. I spend most of the day alone, apart from lunch with a new friend. Online, I catch up with a few older friends and we set up appointments for the rest of the year. I also bond with a female friend over issues relating to the male species.

Nothing is particularly intense, and I’m unsure if life is sweeter for anyone by virtue of being my friend.

I am reminded that friendship requires work, and that I have friends willing to work with me. That is, I suppose, pretty damn sweet.

I discover from this highly journalistic experiment how convenient it is to be convinced that horoscopes are true. Like religion, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and every other arbitrary measure of human behaviour, people will see what they want to see.

That said, this shouldn’t stop you from reading horoscopes. They are entertaining, and if anything, they remind us that we have control over our own destiny if we don’t want certain predictions to happen.

But all in all, horoscopes shouldn’t be excuses for how life turns out. If your career is tanking or your dating life sucks, it’s time to look beyond the fact that you are an Aquarius-Pisces cusp born with Venus in Capricorn.

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