The year: 1998.
The place: My middle school cafeteria in suburban Pennsylvania.
My friend Amy brought the latest issue of Teen magazine to lunch (with Leo DiCaprio on the cover), and between bites of cheese fries, the girls at my lunch table took turns reading our horoscopes out loud to each other.
“Yours says you should talk to your teacher about doing extra credit for a higher grade,” Kate told our friend Jenny. “Do you think Ms. Braxton would go for it?”
“I already asked her last period,” Jenny said, as we all burst into a fit of laughter. “And I reorganized her supplies closet.”
“Jenny, you’re such a Virgo,” said Amy.
“Such a Virgo,” Kate repeated.
Kind, generous Kate is totally an Aquarius. Ambitious, practical Amy is the dictionary definition of a Capricorn. Fearless spitfire Helena has Aries written all over her.
And then there’s me.
I’m a Sagittarius. But ask anyone who knows me—from my zodiac-obsessed middle school lunch buddies to my grandparents—and they’ll tell you that I have none of the so-called Sagittarius personality traits. Never did. Adventurous? I didn’t leave the country until I was 18, and I still get stressed when I travel, even if I’m just taking a weekend trip. Risk-taking? I tried zip-lining once (not my idea, but I wanted to impress the guy I was dating) and burst into tears mid-zip. Optimistic? Um, only if it has the word “cautiously” in front of it. Flighty and scatterbrained? Ask my co-workers: I’m rigidly type A and always finish what I start.
So how the heck did I wind up branded a Sagittarius, the free-spirited, globetrotting love child of the zodiac?
It’s a thought that’s consumed me for years. I know it’s silly to put too much—or any—weight on this stuff, but am I the only person who feels like astrology got it totally wrong? Is it possible that when it comes to me, the stars just…messed up?
I thought so. I felt resigned to the fact that the stars would never get me, until I discovered something incredible: There’s actually a 13th astrological sign.
In January 2016, NASA reported that there’s a 13th constellation that we (and the Babylonians) didn’t know about. Some astrologers believe that as a result of this, the signs of the zodiac should be shifted, making way for a brand new one: Ophiuchus. Although some experts still believe in the O.G. 12, believers of the 13th sign speculate that Ophiuchus falls between November 30 and December 18. My birthday is December 15.
I excitedly scrolled down the checklist of Ophiuchus traits…and they were so me. Secretive? Totally. Jealous? Sadly, yep. (Remember the zip-lining ex-boyfriend? I fumed when I saw a Facebook photo of him rock climbing with his new, way-more-adventurous girlfriend last week. I’m married.) Independent? Always. (I’m one of the few people I know that actually loves going to the movies alone. And oh, did I mention how I shopped for my wedding dress?) For the first time in my life, I felt like the zodiac actually understood me—the good, the bad and everything in between.
And the trait I identified with the most: Ophiuchuses (…Ophiuchusi?) tend to be passionate empaths. Part of the reason I love being alone is because it’s way easier to enjoy a movie when I’m not preoccupied with whether or not my friends are having a good time. (“Did she think that joke was funny? Would she rather be hanging out with her boyfriend? I can tell she’s zoning out, maybe she’d rather have seen Captain Marvel.”) At restaurants, I notice when a stranger at the table next to me isn’t enjoying her meal and get the ridiculous urge to ask if she wants a bite of mine. I never realized my empathic qualities had anything to do with my zodiac sign, but now it seems like it was written in the stars.
Although the news of the 13th sign went viral a few years ago, it’s still notably absent from most horoscopes (even PureWow’s). While some Vedic astrologers recognize the 13th sign, and see the traits as a hybrid between intense, loyal Scorpio and fun, spontaneous Sagittarius. Western astrology is based on the path of the sun as it is seen from earth, not the ever-shifting position of the constellations. Fair enough, but I am not a Sagittarius, and I’m sticking to it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to dinner by myself, where I’ll order something amazing (but I can’t tell you what) while offering food to the table next to me, even though I’m secretly jealous of them. I’m such an Ophiuchus.