Opinions, Column

Romanticizing Life: Just a Trend?

Do you often bring nostalgic Pinterest boards to life? Have you relaxed and watched waves on the beach silently in the last year? As a Boston College student, do you walk through campus simply to admire its beauty? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you have romanticized life. 

It isn’t always easy to see the good in this challenging world—but it can always be romanticized. Many members of Generation Z consciously romanticize the mundane and subsequently post ordinary daily moments on their socials. In the era of social media, this practice often feels like a requirement. Whether you do it “for the aesthetic” or to recenter your soul, romanticizing your life should contribute to your happiness. 

This whole concept blew up in 2020, when idealizing one’s ordinary life allowed the pandemic-ridden world to destress—even the tiniest bit. In a viral TikTok video, Ashley Ward introduced the idea of  “romanticizing our life.” To practice it, a person must intentionally find as much beauty as possible in their surroundings. This tactic for increased awareness and positivity is often likened to the ancient practice of mindfulness, and it shares many of its benefits.

Here’s an example of romanticizing life. On any given Saturday morning, my friends and I will put on our cutest outfits, fill our tote bags with books and laptops, put our hair up in a claw clips, and make the journey from Chestnut Hill into the scenic city of Boston. Usually, we will find a quiet coffee shop and work for a few hours. The pastry and/or lattes we will buy round out the image of a romantic afternoon and make our homework enjoyable. Afterward, maybe we’ll stroll around the quaint Beacon Hill, window shop on Newbury Street, or visit a museum. We will try to experience every moment of this outing to the fullest. Even the 40-minute commute to and from the city is a blessing, as it gives us more time to connect with each other. 

In a world where working yourself to exhaustion is respected as part of “the grind,” it is important to create moments of peace. These Saturdays of romanticism, for me, allow my pace to slow and my eyes to open. During the week, my peripheral vision is blinded as I focus on my school work and personal advancement. But when I attend to the world around me—when I find beauty in the ordinary and when the world feels much bigger than myself—that is when life matters the most. 

To be mindful of the world around me, I look up from my phone and stare at sunsets. I take long walks, laugh loudly, and set aside time for quiet. I count my blessings and explicitly declare my gratitude toward people, flowers, the sun, and whatever other glorious thing is in my line of sight. “Boring” things can be the most wonderful things.

In addition to weekends in the city, people love to romanticize institutions of higher education, including BC. 

Part of why I love my time at BC is because the school focuses intently on personal reflection. For centuries, the Jesuits have engaged with Examens, a practice that involves attentiveness to one’s lived experience. Here at BC, organizations like Campus Ministry and Mindfulness Club offer moments of peace for students and staff alike. In addition, events like 48Hours and Ignite provide powerful events where students can reflect on their lives. With gothic buildings, an abundance of trees, philosophical and theological conversations, and a mission to spread good, life at BC is easy to romanticize for me and many others. 

Though it’s not a requirement, I also think social media can act as a modern-day scrapbook—a perk to living romantically in the 21st century. For instance, historic buildings and Instagram-able locations surround students on campus. Our lives here are set in an attractive location and are thus easily translated into enviable online presences. I personally curate my Instagram feed to reflect the romantic life I live. These posts are the visual snapshot of how I choose to experience life. An aesthetically pleasing feed can be a positive tool in your discovery of a beautiful life, too. 

Romanticism can be a healing medication for the stressed and a powerful tactic for those who have fallen out of love with this earth. As a part of mindfulness, it can treat maladaptive thinking and calm a chaotically charged world. If captured and posted, the concept can even elevate your social media feeds to be more aesthetically pleasing. 

So go fall in love with your life. I have fallen in love with mine. Despite struggles and stressors, the love interest in my life’s movie is life itself. The phrase “romanticize your life” may be young, but life has always had the possibility for romanticism. It is your job to discover what beauties have been obscured by the world’s difficulties.

March 26, 2023