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Ask A Leo: Why Are You So Proud?

Astrology
Illustration by Lindsay Hattrick

We talk to some lions about their pride

Leos. They've got big reputations and ostensibly big egos to back those reputations up. But, are Leos as loud as their roar? And: Is all the talk about them big facts or just publicity?


If you've ever loved a Leo—or, if you are one—you know that Leos come in all varieties, whether they be quiet and intellectual Type As or the bossy leader of the pack. Leos can be as generous with their love as they are uncompromising. They are the first to judge your shoes and the last to begrudge you for your shortcomings. Of course, natal charts have a lot to do with these differences, but so too does upbringing play a role. What a Leo child is taught about honor, about power, and about love are fundamental in the formation of their pride—as in core self that they protect and honor—and pride—as in the people they choose to keep close and build connections with. A fixed sign that radiates warmth and vitality, Leo is the heart of their inner circle. They bring people together and they inspire them to be their very best selves, either by example or with restless encouragement.

The Leos I have brought before you are both writers, and while their approach to their creative process differs, their shared gentle strength—not unlike that of the Strength card in the Tarot—is evident in their answers and their work. As for attention-seeking, it's no surprise to me when Blythe writes, "I feel out of control when I am not the facilitator of the attention I receive." Aisha, too, offers a very classic Leo response to a compliment, "I keep 'auditioning for Full House' with my face. I prefer to be quietly respected, lovingly mocked, or completely ignored."


AISHA SABATINI SLOAN

Aisha writes essays, thinks about art, and is considering whether or not to get better at talking to people on airplanes; find her at aishasloan.com

Leos are often described as attention-seekers and lovers of the spotlight, but anyone who loves a Leo knows that Leos have a very nuanced relationship to attention. As a Leo, do you find yourself differentiating between different forms/varieties of attention? Do you hunger for a particular kind of beholding? What sort of exposure do you shy away from?
I am immensely satisfied by the experience of making people feel seen or heard. The depth of a moment matters a lot to me. How FAR INTO THAT JOKE did we go together? As a teacher, I enjoy constructing elaborate ways to give people exactly the right kind of attention. If I'm feeling greedy for love in a group situation, it is only because I feel known by that group, and even then, I prefer to glam out fast, then disappear. As a creative person, I love to see a thing I've made cause a feeling in someone. But, I don't actually enjoy being complimented. Even when I feel the compliment is authentic, I can barely walk straight afterward, and I keep "auditioning for Full House" with my face. I prefer to be quietly respected, lovingly mocked, or completely ignored.

It is said that the Sun is the heart of the solar system and that, in turn, Leo rules the heart in the human body. For this reason and many others, Leos gain a great deal of emotional satisfaction from sustaining and uplifting their chosen circles. Have you felt the call to do the Sun's work for loved ones in your own life? And if so, are there times when the pressure of such a task was too great?
My gift-giving style is either, "I forgot," or, "I would like to solve your life." There is another mode, which is, "Marshalls." Devotion is a mode I enjoy, though. Not just through purchases. I like grand gestures. But I do tend to space those out. There are a lot of people in my life who are extraordinarily generous, and I feel completely in awe of them, so I'm often aspirational in this regard—learning.

For a Leo, pride can be a source of great power and resolve, but it can also be an Achille's heel. Has pride ever protected your heart? Have you ever found that love is stronger than pride?
I've learned a lot about strength from people whose superpower is compassion or patience. They are my best teachers, and I resist them constantly.

If you could tell your teenage Leo self only one thing that you know now that you didn't know then, what would it be?
Therapist.

Do you have Leo elders or Leo icons? Who are they and what about them inspires reverence in you?
Today I was thinking about this question, and it hit me: Ross Gay must be a Leo. I looked it up, and I was right. And, then, I thought: James Baldwin. Also Leo. Beyond their creativity, these humans take up space in such a beautiful way, you feel like you should take notes on how they move through a room or answer a question. And, they aren't stealing anything from anybody. They are in the flow, and they want you to be in the flow too. That's it. That is a healthy Leo vibe to me: life force. Glow.

What are your current projects? What are you working on? What are you proud of? What are you offering the world right now?
My creative mode of late has been very free fall. I get a kick out of random, commissioned assignments where the prompt is basically: "Let's see where this goes." I like being in a place where process is full of surprises and confusion, because for a long time I was all about knowing exactly what my next project was going to be and mapping it out and spending 37 years on research before I allowed myself to start it. I feel very in the murk right now, like I've found a river where nobody gives a shit what I'm up to so I can get weird.



BLYTHE BAIRD

At only 22 years old, Blythe Baird is already one of the most recognizable names in spoken word and slam poetry. Originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, the viral and award-winning writer has garnered international recognition for her poems that speak out on sexual assault, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, sexuality, and healing. Her work has been featured by Glamour, ELLE India, TedxMinneapolis, The National Eating Disorder Association, Mic, The Huffington Post, EverydayFeminism, Medium, The Mighty, The Body Is Not An Apology, Write Bloody, Button Poetry, A-Plus, and more. She graduated from Hamline University in 2018 with a dual degree in Creative Writing and Women's Studies. Blythe's highly anticipated full-length collection, If My Body Could Speak, is out now with Button Poetry.

Leos are often described as attention-seekers and lovers of the spotlight, but anyone who loves a Leo knows that Leos have a very nuanced relationship to attention. As a Leo, do you find yourself differentiating between different forms/varieties of attention? Do you hunger for a particular kind of beholding? What sort of exposure do you shy away from?
When I was a toddler, my parents recall me standing on the coffee table reciting, "THEY CALL ME A STAR! BUT I'M REALLY MUCH MORE! A LEGEND—THAT'S THE TITLE I ADORE!" It is a story about myself I find to be equal parts embarrassing and endearing. To be seen and feel seen by others has always been incredibly important to me, which has both served and hindered me. Of course, it is a blessing to have never known what it is like to wish for invisibility. I learned to love myself most when I am on stage; where I intentionally allow myself to be the most powerful version of myself. I have come to realize that I most enjoy the kind of attention that I feel I have control over; the kind I have time to plan for and anticipate. However, I cannot help but shrivel in the face of unexpected attention. If I don't have time to adequately prepare myself to experience the spotlight, I feel blindsided. For example, I would be flustered if someone threw a surprise party for my birthday; it makes me feel out of control when I am not the facilitator of the attention I receive. But, maybe that's because my stubborn moon is in Taurus.

It is said that the Sun is the heart of the solar system and that, in turn, Leo rules the heart in the human body. For this reason and many others, Leos gain a great deal of emotional satisfaction from sustaining and uplifting their chosen circles. Have you felt the call to do the Sun's work for loved ones in your own life? And if so, are there times when the pressure of such a task was too great?
Absolutely. I feel thankful that I can so easily identify the tendernesses in the hearts of my friends. I find it easy to celebrate their ferocity and gentleness. I find other people easy to love and appreciate. I don't feel drained from uplifting others; it feels like it fulfills a desire inside of mine, to not only be admired but to admire others openly and genuinely.

For a Leo, pride can be a source of great power and resolve, but it can also be an Achille's heel. Has pride ever protected your heart? Have you ever found that love is stronger than pride?
I believe pride, much like perfectionism, is one of the things that once served a sincere purpose in my life that I feel myself beginning to outgrow. I do believe that love is stronger than pride, mostly because I must believe love is stronger than everything. I mean, it has to be.

If could you tell your teenage Leo self only one thing that you know now that you didn't know then, what would it be?
It is exhaustingly fruitless and unnecessary to spend so much time trying to ensure everyone likes you. It's okay if people don't like you. Not everyone has to find you worthwhile for you to be of worth. Your peers are not the gatekeepers of your own self-acceptance. You're allowed to be the person who gives you permission to adore yourself.

Do you have Leo elders or Leo icons? Who are they and what about them inspires reverence in you?
My primary Leo icon is my favorite celebrity, Demi Lovato. At her concert, her opening act—Kehlani—expressed how thankful she was for Demi because she shares her own darknesses in order to give other people light. That inspires me. I believe Leos often have the rare gift of being equipped to let the whole world see them, not just in their successes but in their struggles.

What are your current projects? What are you working on? What are you proud of? What are you offering the world right now?
Right now, I am teaching a class on performing and editing spoken word for students age 13 to 17 at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. I'm also working on planning a spoken word tour with my best friend-roommate Donte Collins. I am also about halfway through with writing my third book. I am proud of the fact that I've been hustling in my career since I was 16. I am proud of the way I've learned to not only love but allow myself to be loved within the past year. I didn't always know how to do that. For a long time, I only felt like I truly experienced love was when I was giving it. Things are different now. I am different now. I'm learning that I'm still valuable even when no one is watching me. Every day, I offer my heart to the world simply by showing up. As a teenager, I honestly did not think I'd live past 21, but I'm celebrating my 23rd birthday next week. Every day that I wake up is a victory. I'm grateful that one day the urge to write a poem became greater than the urge to write a suicide note. So, I will keep writing the poems.

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