Photographer Lorna Simpson, a Lion.
Photo-Illustration: by Preeti Kinha; Photos: Getty
Early Thursday morning, communication planet Mercury enters Virgo, where it can effortlessly express its analytical and detail-oriented side. Problems in your workplace that have gone unnoticed become impossible to ignore; any dissatisfaction in your relationships can no longer be ignored. It’s easy to tell a romantic, overarching story about the course of your life, but for now, don’t overlook the details. While Mercury is in Virgo, you can clearly see what is right and what is wrong or lacking. Instead of pretending these things don’t matter or are too insignificant to be worth fixing, you can take action to fix them. You’ll be glad you did.
You’ve been struggling lately with the idea that you don’t deserve to be loved. Before anyone can really take care of you, imagine, you have to do a dizzying amount of inner work; before you can share your life with another, you must first become perfect on your own. But it puts so much unnecessary pressure on you. While working on yourself is valuable, perfection is not a reasonable expectation. Close relationships are not prizes you earn by getting rid of all your flaws. Instead, intimacy can aid in the growth and healing process. Other people can reflect your best self to you and finally make you feel fully alive.
Sometimes the (perfectly natural) anxiety you feel when you’re forced to be brave — to stand up for yourself, to confess a deep feeling, or to take a big professional risk — keeps you from doing it at all. You tell yourself that you’re smart about playing it safe, that things wouldn’t have turned out in your favor anyway. But by refusing to act, you also forestall wonderful possibilities. More than that, you deny yourself the heady thrill of acting courageously. Even if your risks were never to materialize, they were still worth taking, if only to remind you that you still have the power and freedom to act.
This week, you may feel a particularly strong sense of perfectionism. Once-fulfilling relationships are suddenly insufficient; the creative projects that made you vibrate last week reveal all their cracks and imperfections. What’s important right now is to remember that you can’t take care of everything at once. If you focus on small annoyances, you’ll have less energy to charge ahead; if you want to keep moving boldly, you’ll have to drop some details. Either strategy can be good. Just know that you will have to choose.
You are insightful, good at reading between the lines. Just by paying close attention, you can usually tell what people want, what they think of you, what emotions are simmering beneath the surface. But no matter how shrewd you are or how many times your observations turn out to be right, there will always be times when you are wrong. This week, it’s crucial to remember that you don’t know everything. Sometimes the only way to get to the truth, to best understand those you love, is to sincerely ask and listen to what they have to say.
You might be surprised to learn that dreaming big doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It requires a particular combination of daring and imagination and a willingness to look beyond the boring and limiting issues of practicality. You have a rare gift for coming up with exciting new ideas, based on your belief that everyday life shouldn’t be boring but wonderful. This week, however, you’ll want to take care of the less flashy elements of your ideas. Right now, dealing with the details won’t deflate you and your plans. On the contrary, it will help you bring them into the real world, to actually achieve the life you dreamed of.
It’s hard to be generous with others when your own outlook and place in the world isn’t secure. When you’re worried there isn’t enough for everyone, it seems riskier to share; when you fear that those around you will behave selfishly, it is tempting to hoard what you have. This week, however, generosity will make your life easier and strengthen your relationships. It will remind you how great a good community can be. Even if you don’t entirely believe it’s wise to volunteer your time, resources, or energy right now, give it a try anyway. You will be surprised how much you will get in return.
It seems to you that everyone has become unnecessarily cynical and eager to criticize everything and everyone, even with the universe itself. They may not be criticizing you personally, but it’s hard not to get defensive. You don’t have to tolerate meanness, of course. Just remember that sometimes criticism comes not from a lack of love but from an abundance of love. What at first looks like a simple condemnation may, in fact, be an attempt to make things better. And you can follow their example: you too can fight for everything you deserve.
You have permission this week to stop trying to persuade others of your worth. You can imagine that if you present a strong enough argument, if you find precisely the right combination of words, you can convince someone who doesn’t care about you to change their mind. In reality, this is rarely effective. Either they see how special you are or they never will. A better use of your time is to work on proving it to yourself – act like you love yourself and believe in yourself, like you know you deserve to be here, because you do.
Lately, your future seems so uncertain that it’s tempting to preemptively give up, to assume that happiness is beyond your reach before you’ve even achieved it. The safest move, you imagine, is to keep expectations low. But this week, nothing good can come from settling for mediocrity, limiting your imagination to achievable but uninspiring compromises. Amazing things are possible, but only if you aim for your heart’s true desire. You probably won’t find precisely what you’re looking for (we rarely do in life), but the quest itself will change you and your life for the better.
You can find countless reasons to be sad and scared these days; despair darkens you at every turn. Your friends try to cheer you up, often with limited success. Happiness seems inappropriate when so many people are suffering. You know you are more than right to feel grief and fear. But as natural as your emotions are, you still have to find ways to keep living, to keep fighting. If joy isn’t fueling you right now, try determination or anger instead. You can find surprising power in sheer determination not to be defeated.
When luck is scarce and you can’t take the break you need, retreating into fatalism and desperation may seem like your best or only option. But it’s not. You can refuse to accept the vagaries of the universe as final, refuse to concede the fight to better your life and society. There are ways to create your own power, your own luck. Not through talismans and magic but by banding together with a group of people. There’s plenty to be pessimistic about this week, but when you come together with others, when you believe in your power to do great things together, that’s when your luck starts to turn.
Part of you finds it hard to trust your work (and yourself) until others indicate approval. External validation gives you permission to love yourself and believe in yourself. Moreover, we feel good bask in the warmth of admiration. That’s not a bad thing; you don’t need to deprive yourself of vital interactions. But the purpose of this week is simply to remind you that you need their. You are wonderful, you are brave, you live your life as best you can, and that will stay true whether someone tells you or not.
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