Welcome to Zodiask, a monthly column in which an expert on a current astrological season figures out how their sign’s most notorious attributes can work in your favor, whatever time of year you were born.
Our first expert is Meredith Graves, the writer, Director of Music at Kickstarter, strange-dog owner , musician, and unswerving, Beyoncé-acknowledged quadruple Virgo (more on that later). Because Virgos are known as “the most fastidious sign,” which “reads the fine print and hones in on small details,” Broadly has asked this detail-oriented polymath about how to organize the goings-on of the slightly messier signs (read: every other sign). Here’s how to harness Virgo’s meticulousness in order to fix your life.
The popular characterization of Virgo as a micromanaging, germophobic, uptight virgin is so linguistically reductive, my Virgo sorority sisters Mary Shelley and Jean Rhys are rolling in their graves (so is Stephen King, but he’s still alive, that’s just where he takes naps). We ask, instead, that you consult a spiritual thesaurus.
Our motivations are generally far bolder than simply maintaining a deep love of hand sanitizer or needing to repeat-text when you’re six minutes late: Gut-check the stereotype against the Virgos you couldn’t live without on a personal level and see how fast hypersensitivity becomes acuity, uptight becomes self-control, and obsessive becomes precise, thorough, and organized. The worst traits attributed to Virgo, denatured, reveal themselves to be synonyms for the words you lean on to fudge facts on a résumé.
While we’re in the business of redefinition: To fix your life could mean making repairs, if something feels broken—but it could also mean to fix like a horse race or a game of bridge: to set things up behind the scenes in order to secure your desired outcome. If we talk about fixing our lives as if they’re currently down for repairs, we tend to end up in a hole, worrying over the same rumor capitalism perpetuates every day: that we’re not totally good enough exactly as we are, and the only thing that can help is radical transformation from the outside in. If we talk about how to fix our lives like we’re pulling off a giant scam on God, the State, and anyone else who has ever hurt us, we are fucking empowered.
They do say that the easiest way to predict the future is to create it, and the idea that you could accomplish that via pickiness about constituent elements of daily life— slow versus quick oats, the way your boots are laced, whether you start a late response with ‘Sorry, forgive me, I am the worst!!!!!’ or ‘Thanks for your patience’— is granular in a peculiarly Virgoan way. (Note how I have proven this by honing in on and making clear my preferences about the specificities of language, thus far.)
An obsession with minutiae is easily spun into a sort of system-architecture of the self in relation to the world (Adorno was a Virgo, as is Donna Haraway): Deep, analytical awareness of your partialities, habits, and needs doesn’t take a lot of effort, and can reduce what may feel like weird anxiety-inducing uncertainties into simple yes or no questions. This strategy is half a Jedi mind trick and half a mutant CHUD form of neuro-linguistic programming, but we Virgos did not earn our reputation as the fixers of the zodiac by sitting on our asses and not manipulating ourselves (and others) into getting shit done .
When it comes to fixing your life by engineering and customizing it to the absolute enth you can manage, the idea is to know yourself and your tastes—your needs and your truths—so well inside and out that most situations can be handled with a question such as Does this work, or Is this me? Set your mind to the task of asking why of every decision you make in a day, starting from the moment you wake up: Is this how I want to start my day, within the limits of reason? How otherwise would I prefer to wake up?
Flesh out the image: Did you get enough sleep, and if no, was it because you were up until 3 in the morning cross-referencing the bibliographies of popular Wikipedia pages about medieval diseases? Is your alarm annoying as fuck; do you regularly fall asleep with your makeup on; did you forget to close the curtains? Start asking which elements are in your control. Whatever falls within your bandwidth, fix it.
If those things don’t matter and you can only sleep in your church clothes on a big pile of barf, that’s fine too—the stereotype of Virgos as obsessively clean perfectionists has never made sense to me, nicknamed Messy Maddie as a child and known to eat boxes of cookies in bed. It’s more like being extremely fucking particular: Eating cookies in bed anchors me in my world. It is one tiny, harmless component of what makes me happy. In doing it, I have engineered a positive. It doesn’t need to be “perfect,” just perfect for me.
That’s the thing about general Virgo-ness: everyone tries to stroke your color-coded daily/weekly hybrid day planner, mumbling, “Gosh, I wish I were more like you,” when one can easily accomplish that by being fiercely, uncompromisingly themselves whenever possible. That is some deep Virgo shit.
What is true, empirical, fact-based and citable, and what’s just habitual, unsupported belief?
Starting small isn’t just a good idea, it’s a borderline requirement for developing the kind of emotional intelligence that manifests as efficiency. No hurdle is too miniscule. The question of whether or not you need to eat breakfast in order to feel good in the morning begets asking what it is you like to eat and why. It continues into what you wear to work and whether or not your closet is organized in a way that automates those sorts of small, but trying daily decisions, and so on and so on until it even gives you a sense of what time you need to go to bed in order to enjoy your life a little bit more. In the time you spend paused on the corner standing in front of the shop listening to the train barreling overhead—passing you by!—wondering if you have time for breakfast, if they have anything you want, what it means about you as a person if you just get Pop Tarts to eat raw on the train, and then how to best render those thoughts into a compelling and relatable tweet… You could have walked in, bought a banana, and gotten on with your life.
That is how you fix your life, in one sense. You figure out ways to be happy and you do what you can to make them real and constant. You ask yourself questions about practicality until you whittle self-deceit into self-receipts: I suck and I feel stupid doesn’t hold up for long if you start by asking yourself why you’re so inclined to trust your feelings: What is true, empirical, fact-based and citable, and what’s just habitual, unsupported belief? Getting a nasty, irrelevant email from a coworker you can’t stand hits the I SUCK reflex so hard it gives you that sour-milk feeling in your stomach (Virgo being the astrological ruler of the guts, naturally). But if you can pause long enough to recognize that—
Said coworker is a weirdo bitchass
This email is about some random thing that happened two weeks ago, and
The other 19 unread emails in your inbox are from happy clients thanking you profusely or potential new ones trying to set up meetings
—It’s unlikely you’ll continue down the path of I SUCK much further. Consider whether you’d rather believe in emotions that stem from stress and stimuli, and which can feel hard to control—or your résumé, literal or figurative, the composite skills, accolades, experiences and talents you’ve acquired over the course of your life.
Fluency in one’s own secret language of the self requires a lot of navel-gazing and brutal honesty about everything from what you like to eat and read to how you get it on, but when you’ve been socialized in a world that tries to train you how to be from birth, scheduling time to get to know yourself feels downright liberating. In opting to stick to what actually works and feels good for you, you end up feeling like you’re taking back some of the time stolen from you by all the books of Men’s Poetry, sub-par veggie burgers, and pity dates that, against your intuition, you’ve seen through to the end.
Practicing self-awareness, even at the level of breakfast, is a sort of direct action against the mecha-corporations fighting, Transformers-style, to the death for the opportunity to tell you what you’re allowed to like this year. Put into practice, the assertion of need (breakfast before I go to work) and desire (blueberries) can be and has been systemically scaled up into romance (The Five Love Languages, for one), working environments, and all the other ways you relate to other people. It’s rehearsing the identification and setting of boundaries, a legitimately invaluable skill.
This approach to the world can prevent you from feeling bowled over or unprepared when you’re hit with a question you may not immediately be able to answer—for example, last year, when I was an on-camera music news host faced with having to interview Teen Popstar #462 on a red carpet, whom I knew to be very famous, and whose name I had completely forgotten. In such a situation, if you’re right with yourself, nary a bead of sweat will drop, and you will opt for, “So, it seems everybody here likes music,” or a blatant turn to the crowd, shouting, “Can anybody tell me who this mans is right here?” It's not perfect, but nobody except you needs to know that.
It means I was still able to drum up at least one factoid from my cranial depths—even while glitching out, later that night, in terrified awe when the most famous (and well-prepared) Virgo of all time—one Beyoncé Knowles—sneaks up on you while you’re trying to interview a nice young man from Chicago:
Two Virgos—Beyoncé and me—observed in the wild.
If you know the facts of you well enough to identify them in, and extend them to, others, it lends new color and tone to the word preparation. It ensures that, even if you don’t know precisely where you’re headed, at least you’re the one driving.
Virgos know: Interior knowledge is radical knowledge. Cutting out the bullshit is freedom. It means isolating: Persephone in her room with the door closed, listening to Stereolab, packing for her yearly trip to the Underworld with a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The resulting surety in what you need—what you know—means that, a lot of the time, nobody can tell you shit. That won’t always make you friends, but it could set you free.