Latest posts by Muhammed Naeem Shehryar (see all)
- Problematic Placements & Planetary Positions: The Astrology of a Yale-NUS Student - November 11, 2019
- Diversity Blackboards Aim to Break Barriers - September 16, 2019
story| Muhammed Naeem Shehryar, Contributing Reporter
photo | Kosuke Nakamura ’22
At its core, astrology aims to tell people more about who they inherently are by calculating the positions of the stars and planets where and when they were born. Each planet is associated with different aspects of your personality. For example, the sun, which determines one’s dominant personality; the moon, which influences one’s emotional personality; Venus, which dictates how people act in love; and Mars, which drives people’s attitudes towards their goals and ambitions.
Most people have fairly simple birth charts, where their placements don’t ‘contradict’ each other. For the vast majority of Yale-NUS College students, that’s not true.
I know this because so far, my only constant in college has been all the birth charts I invariably end up reading almost every day. They find me in the dining hall, my room, seminars — hordes of fellow liberal-arts college kids desperate to know more about themselves.
Every time we press submit on the Café Astrology form, a strange pattern emerges.
I can feel you roll your eyes. Usually, astrology is relegated to the same basket of ‘myth’ that, for many of us, holds everything from flat-earth theories to ‘workable applications of communism’. At least, that’s how the conversation starts. They hand me their phone, slightly sweaty palms tensing in anticipation. I explain to them how this works: ‘I don’t really believe in astrology (an important clarification since I don’t want to come off as crazy — living in Cendana already contributes to that notion enough) but around 90% of birth charts I read end-up being around 90% accurate.’
Satisfied by my proclamations of sanity, they relent, now more curious than optimistic. And then, the reading begins, and a ‘Yale-NUS type’ starts to emerge.
My friends tell me I have one of three reactions when encountering this pattern: ‘oh no’, ‘oh dear’ and ‘dear Lord.’ I would argue all three are perfectly reasonable — now that I have kept you in suspense for this long, I’ll let you in on a secret all of you probably already know.
People at Yale-NUS are intensely chaotic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean this in a ‘will drink too much soju at 11:13 pm on a Saturday night, despite the fact that their 11:59 pm Literature and Humanities submission isn’t yet finished’ way. I mean that in the ‘your planetary placements all contradict each other so that every aspect of your personality is at war with each other’ way.
Let me break this down for you. I usually read four placements: the sun, the moon, Venus, and Mars. At Yale-NUS, these placements exist in one of two slightly-problematic planes — they are contradictory (so for example, their sun sign might denote emotional repression, but their moon sign be a very emotional placement), and secondly very, very intense (usually manifested in a combination where all their placements carry some sort of restless/impulsive energy).
I decided, however, to let my grand conspiracies (that the admissions office probably uses our birth charts to decide whether or not to admit us) rest — after all, I hadn’t read that many birth charts at Yale-NUS.
The answer was I probably hadn’t, so I shelved birth charts in favour of Philosophy and Political Thought 1 essays. Then came a Tinder date I went on a few weeks ago with someone who has deferred their Yale-NUS admission to a later year. While we walked through Botanic Gardens, and I told them what Yale-NUS was like, I jokingly told them about the ‘Yale-NUS birth chart’. Curious, they offered to let me read theirs.
This time, it was my palms that were sweating. As I typed in their date, time, and place of birth into the form, I tried to guess what I’d find on the other side of the submit button (and guessed their sun sign correctly!). What I found was just another typical ‘Yale-NUS birth chart’ – a cluster of zodiacs coming together to formulate a personality that was contradictory and confused.
We still talk, sometimes, but we haven’t gone on a second date yet – maybe it just wasn’t written into the stars.