Loving your life: the romanticization of the everyday

by Smriti Vijay (’25) | March 10, 2023

Art by Chloe Shin (’25)

romanticize: to deal with or describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; to make (something) seem better or more appealing than it really is

In a society that seems to prioritize productivity and quantitative achievement in all settings, the call to “romanticize your life” advertises the beautification of everyday life. Have homework? Light up a candle and play some classical music to set the mood. Hungry? Walk to a cafe nearby and try something new.

A properly romanticized life appears to be a savored life, where every move is an important decision in and of itself and nothing is taken for granted. This activity lives hand in hand with a similarly popular movement encouraging everyone to act like and believe they are the “main character.” Both restore happiness in the little things. It is a deviation from society’s emphasis on productivity—as seen in neverending hustle culture—yet a modern interpretation of individualism in a fast-paced world.

The consistent romanticization of life seems to be the perfect solution to erase the dulls of day-to-day monotony. In an exhausting world, stopping and thinking about the wonders of today is a thought process clearly worth entertaining—and I agree, to an extent. Some take the simple pleasure to read for fifteen minutes before bed while others take long hikes to clear up their mind, but everyone is striving for a heightened sense of satisfaction with their own lives. Many traditional ways to romanticize your life align with practices of meditation and mindfulness, proven to greatly improve mental health and well-being. Finding joy in the normally mundane harms no one, and if romanticizing your life is the way to do it then this mindset is clearly beneficial.

My worries about romanticizing your life revolve around the growing emphasis on aesthetics. On TikTok, the hashtag #romanticizingyourlife features thousands of videos with a combined total of over 1.1 billion views. This begs the question, when do we stop romanticizing our lives for our benefit and start romanticizing merely for the image? Will we embark on a hike for our own pleasure, or will we go only to take pictures and post later? Or even worse, will we go to simply emulate what other people “romanticizing their life” are doing instead of actually changing our lives in ways that are tailored to ourselves? No two people are made the same, and the photogenic, romanticized life cannot fit everyone.

Furthermore, the version plastered across every single social media platform is largely unattainable. Not everyone is going to have the time or resources to buy a coffee every day, plan out creative outfits for the week, or take a day off to visit a museum—all activities marketed on some of the top TikTok videos in this subgenre. In addition, the methods to romanticize life spread to millions are largely Eurocentric, or at least incredibly confined to one specific aesthetic that discounts a variety of cultures. A large majority of the people shown when searching for the “romanticize your life aesthetic” on Pinterest are white women, holding English books and wearing Western clothing. Most of the posts recommending ways to romanticize your life center on a Western lifestyle, leaving a small and vague room for those who may not be exposed to classical music but do listen to Carnatic music, or those who don’t dream about wearing ball gowns but do wonder about donning qipaos.

In essence, I believe romanticization can only work offline, as a journey concerning only yourself. The exposure to social media and the subsequent transition from a lifestyle to an aesthetic deprives the behavior of all of its benefits, for romanticizing your life means nothing if it isn’t truly your life you’re looking to improve.

Categories: Opinions

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