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The dangers of over-romanticizing your life

Lia Piccoli / The SPOKE

By Raima Saha, Co-Opinion Editor

You wake up to yet another day of school. You attend the same classes that have been on your schedule for months now, just to follow the same routine of extracurriculars, homework, sleep, repeat.

When put like this, it can be easy to see why you might want to spice up your life, even if it is in small gestures. While you may not be able to control your circumstances, you can control what candle you use.

To romanticize means to deal with something in an idealized or unrealistic fashion. Starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, romanticizing your life encouraged hopefulness and positivity even when the future seemed uncertain. It stems from “main character energy” on social media: you are the main character in your own story living in a movie that is your life.

While romanticizing your life is not inherently harmful, over-romanticizing can have unintended negative consequences. For starters, it creates unrealistic expectations of how life should be.

On social media, you can find millions of people living their best lives, seeming perfect as you scroll through the curated feed of their Instagram page. Looking at constant reminders of how your life does not compare to what you see on the screen can be demoralizing. Your life does not have to be perfect or exciting all the time for it to still be worth living.

Additionally, romanticization encourages the trivialization of hard emotions like pain and grief. While it may seem to help alleviate such emotions, it invalidates hard feelings. It can even transition into toxic positivity, where one feels the need to stay positive and optimistic even while dealing with emotional pain. According to Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist and expert on narcissism, encouraging people who are suffering to be positive can invalidate their current emotions and elicit secondary emotions such as shame and guilt. Instead of making you feel better, trying to pretend everything is all rainbows and sunshine only makes you feel worse.

Over-romanticization can also lead to over-consumerism. Countless videos and social media posts show people buying a cup of coffee every morning or the trendiest items online to make their day a little bit better. From not-so-little spur-of-the-moment clothing hauls to showing off their beautiful vacation, this content promotes a lifestyle that is not sustainable for everyone. Such an attitude pushes materialism as the solution to all your problems, only making you more unhappy and unfulfilled.

Whatever the downsides of romanticization may be, one must admit that living life as if you’re the main character does have its upsides. When we think of ourselves as the protagonist of our stories, it gives us autonomy. Realizing that you have control over your own life can empower and embolden you to step out of your comfort zone and take risks.

However, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Main character energy can make you egocentric and selfish, resulting in you focusing on what others can do for you instead of what you can do for them.

All this to say, take what you see on social media or in the movies with a grain of salt. While your life may seem simple or even boring by comparison, that does not mean it is devoid of beauty.

Take time to figure out what brings you joy, whether it be a hobby or hanging out with friends. It is easy to become disillusioned by what we see in the media, but seeking out the small joys will make your life that much sweeter.

Raima Saha can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Raima Saha, Co-Opinion Editor
Raima Saha is a junior and the Co-Opinion Editor of The Spoke. She previously served as a Design Editor. In addition to writing for the Opinion section, she likes to cover stories that impact the community and draw cartoons for The Spoke. Outside of the newsroom, she is a member of the Conestoga girls’ squash team and is a PAL for Conestoga's Peer Mediation. You can find her reading a book or eating sushi in her spare time.