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.
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.
It’s “break up with your significant other” season.
To be fair, every season at Harvard might as well be “break up with your S.O.” season. Never before have I seen so many messy romantic relationships (and breakups) than at Harvard. Stifling sobs in communal bathrooms, second-guessing every amorphous figure at a too-dark party, running away to New Haven. When it comes to the ends of relationships, Harvard students run the gamut of every unfortunate response to trauma.
Good news! If you have — given up trying to explain mechanism design to your problem set group while studying for midterms, argued with your significant other about the disproportionately low effort you feel they’re putting into the relationship, or trekked all the way to the Quad to meet a friend just to get a text saying the evening van just dropped them off at Eliot courtyard and they can’t wait to see you — lately, it’s not your fault. Mercury’s in retrograde.
You’ve probably heard someone offer these three undecipherable words as an explanation for anything that’s gone wrong in the last month. So what do they mean?
Every year, like a distorted New Year’s resolution with none of the cake or confetti, I compare myself to a dreamscape version of myself. Dream Christina has a nice singing voice and kind eyes. Dream Christina knows how to keep a conversation going. They are the kind of cool that makes people want to stop them on the street and ask where they got their fit.
In reality, I have an okay singing voice, okay eyes, an okay ability at facilitating conversation, an okay sense of style. In reality, I have no fewer than six different documents listing life goals, action items for the semester, bucket lists, skills to learn, things about myself to fix, and ambitions so deep they’re almost shameful.