• Anya Fernihough

The Romanticisation Of Life

Romanticism is defined as a movement in the arts and literature, originating in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual. It was distinguished by a new interest in human psychology, expression of personal feelings, and interest in the natural world. In the modern-day, it has come to take on the meaning of describing things in a way that makes them seem more appealing, exciting, or mysterious than they really are, almost like looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses.

Romanticism shows the beauty in life, such as the simple, mundane daily tasks that we do, like making our morning coffee. It creates an aspirational idealization of life, where everything is perfect and beautiful. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a particularly ethereal ideology; romanticism is subjective, and we all have our own opinions of what the perfect life is.

Social media has naturally played a large part in how we romanticize our lifestyles, with the ability to broadcast every second being easier than ever. ‘That girl’ videos have been circulating the internet for the past few months, often showcasing an idealized morning routine involving making your bed, acai bowls and some form of exercise. There are many other types too; depending on the algorithm, you most likely have found a post depicting your perfect, romanticized life.

Like anything, there are some dangers surrounding romanticism. Different aesthetics and media have brought out the idealization of inappropriate or abusive relationships, mental illness, drug and alcohol misuse, and criminal activity. This is particularly disturbing as in a sense, it dulls the seriousness of these issues, in some cases making them appear almost desirable; this can result in people finding themselves in dangerous circumstances. While romanticism doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, there is the danger of idealizing inappropriate situations as a result of the influence of popular culture or certain aesthetics.

Still on the topic of the downsides of romanticism, but on a much less intense note, it can be said that this perfect life portrayed on social media is rather off-putting, demoralizing, and demotivating. Sometimes we are not in the mood for getting up out of bed, doing a 10-step skincare routine, and going for a run, and that is perfectly fine. However, the persistent bombardment of this media can slowly take its toll on our mental health. We can develop ‘grass is greener’ syndrome, which is the idea that there is always something or someone better, that our desires are purely aspirational and completely achievable. It also provokes a certain jealousy in others, and overall I find is one of the key factors to my own demotivation. I think it is easy to compare ourselves to others and in fact the media almost encourages us to do so.

There are a few actions a person can take if they find themselves in this situation. They could either attempt to compete with these fake online personas, or they can accept that social media and reality are two separate things. By doing this, you can allow yourself to not feel pressured to have the perfect life. Ironically, this can then lead you to romanticising your own life, however with a much more positive outlook. You will have a greater appreciation for those simple mundane tasks you repeat every day, and will feel all the more comfortable in yourself.

My friends and I had a really insightful discussion about whether we romanticize things. A common response was that people often pretend like everything is alright, even when it sometimes isn’t. There’s a certain degree of performance, especially on social media, when we take this idea of romanticism and then attempt to act as if our lives are actually that way. It could be said that romanticism is everywhere, almost subconsciously making us do this. Romance films and books portray love and life as this beautiful thing (which it is). However, this is often unrealistic yet we as an audience are swept up by it till we dream of our lives being like a coming-of-age type movie. Music has also been influenced greatly in the sense that it is now used as a tool for romanticism; a soundtrack for our own movie. I’m pretty sure everyone has seen those ‘pov: ur the main character’ Spotify playlists, evidencing this idea. In short, romanticism is visible everywhere, whether it’s art, literature, nature or something else.

My friends and I also talked about how romanticizing things isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially if it’s concerning topics such as mental health issues. The so-called ‘sad girl’ aesthetic of the tumblr era has been making a comeback and there have been several references in the media suggesting that mental illness makes someone more interesting or that it is almost something that is desirable. Of course, this leads to a whole other topic of false self-diagnosis, however overall it is clear that aspiring to have a mental health issue is rather disturbing and something that definitely shouldn’t be romanticised.

One opinion that was given was that people don’t appreciate bettering themselves unless it’s for aesthetic purposes. For example, you can’t just read a book, you have to read it next to a window, with candles lit and while drinking a latte. This links back to how romanticism can be demotivating, as you want to do these simple things, but feel like you don’t want to make such an effort to do everything else that makes it aesthetic, eventually deterring you from doing it.

Nevertheless, I think that romanticizing your life can still be beneficial. In this contemporary society, we often lose sight of the little things and our appreciation for life itself. By taking a step back we can learn to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of the world around us. As corny as that may seem it is important and something I hope we all learn to do; there is a place (and a personal need/desire) for the romanticism of life.