Your all access pass to the world of romanticization (and how to know you’re being healthy about it!) SPOILER ALERT: It ain’t just about couples and mushy crap.
Feat. Echoes of the Future, a narrative prose poem by me, Draco Rose.
So what exactly is romanticization?
If you thought the terms romanticization or romantic were just related to lovey dovey couple stuff, surprise! You’re not alone. Though they can totally apply to romantic or sexual relationships, it’s important to note that’s not all there is to it!
Fun fact: You can be a romantic without ever being emotionally or physically involved with anyone... like ever.
To put it simply, the topic of romanticization relates to a specific idealized view of reality and a romantic (at least in this context) is a person who has this view of reality and, in my opinion, has a tendency towards this. In plain terms, we have a set idea or expectation of how something in the world (or our life) is like or should be. It’s like walking around believing your life is a Disney movie, or thinking that the outfit you’re struggling to put together needs to be perfect or that hot guy you had all of one conversation with won’t fall madly in love with you...or something.
Now there’s nothing particularly wrong with these examples, but they walk a very thin line between being a healthy romantic and a toxic one.
Wait, toxic romantics are a thing?
Yup, and if left unchecked, they can be incredibly dangerous.
For toxic romantics or toxic romanticizations, the thing they’ve idealized has been warped in some way or form. This can be caused by a number of things: friends, family, misunderstandings etc. But probably the biggest contributor to this warped reality is the media.
Movies, tv shows, books, and even music, can twist the way we perceive the world around us. We start to idealize things like the perfect body, then the media tells us that it's only achieved by eating half a grape and bleaching our skin (which is complete bullshit because the perfect body will house your organs and be beautiful in every size and skin tone).
It sucks, but society is full of these traps and tbh, they can be extremely rude and disrespectful.
It’s wanting a “gay bestfriend” for fashion advice or dating a person of color because they’re “exotic”. These stereotypes are hurtful and wrong. Both of these examples are born from people idealizing a false expectation of who these groups should be in relation to them and in the end, that’s where the toxicity comes in. Both healthy and toxic romantics have one thing in common, it almost always comes back to themselves. Romanticization is probably one of the most self-centered (or self-focused) aspects of life because you do it for you!
We face problems when we disregard the cons of our idealization. If we’ve fallen too in love with how we want to see the world, we'll end up hurting ourselves and others around us.
If it’s so dangerous, why do it at all?
I believe romanticization (IN MODERATION) can be incredibly helpful for the mind, and we actually encourage the healthy romantic more often than you’d think. The fastest example? Social media, specifically Tiktok!
I don’t know if it’s extroverts going crazy or introverts finally getting to share their interests, but both groups have managed to come together and do some pretty awesome things!
We’re listening to all genres of music and creating aesthetics for some of the sweetest activities.
Whether it’s struggling to sing Le Festin from Ratatouille while attempting to make fresh pizza (key word: attempt), doing fun painting dates with your best friends (even if it’s just a giant blob you claim is “abstract”), or chilling to music at the beach so you can watch the sky change colors as the sun sets, either way, we’re falling in love with the world again.
For me, I have breakfast.
Sometimes, when I’ve reached my limit, I force myself to wake up around 6 a.m when I know my family is asleep. The sun isn’t up yet and the world is just quiet. There are no cars, no people, no noise beyond whatever I decide to make that day, be it pancakes and eggs or just cereal. The silence of the early morning, when my body is barely waking up fills me with a certain kind of peace. It makes my bad days bearable and reminds me that even when life is bathing in the proverbial litter box, it’s not always bad.
It’s not necessarily better, nor is it worse, it just is.
Sometimes that’s all there has to be.
It’s not always about roller coasters or high intensity events like parties, it can be hanging out with someone and not needing to say a single word to feel comfortable with them. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. It can be impossible sometimes, but if we don’t find ways to love the little aspects, then what’s the point? Sure you have your whole existence to do that, but why wait? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by learning to seek out those pockets of peace, even if it’s as small as breakfast.
Why do we do it?
There are so many reasons why we do it, but personally? I think our generation is struggling to deal with the pressure of the world.
We’re told how to look, how to dress, and who to love. We’re told to work hard for grades we hardly earn, to work a job that we hate, so we can settle down in a house we don’t want anyway. We’re cleaning up the mess left by our parents and grandparents, while simultaneously trying to create a new world. One where we can love each other and not be divided by skin, sexuality, gender orientation, religion etc.
Above all, whatever your reasoning, this is how we’re coping.
Regardless of how many protests we attend, or acts of kindness we share, we’re still human, we’re still kids (age be damned). Sue me for wanting a little magic in my life.
Still lost? How bout a change in medium.
For the kid still in the dark, feeling the brunt of society’s pressure, who has no idea how the hell they're gonna make it through the next (or current) chapter in their life, I present to you, Echoes of the Future by me, Draco Rose.
A prose poem that can mean just as much, or as little, as you need it to.
Echoes of the Future by Draco Rose
“How do you do it?”
“What?” he asked.
Live, I thought. The weight of the word sat heavily on my tongue. I couldn’t remember how we got to this clearing in the woods, or how exactly I wound up on the ground, sight set upon a sky bathed in hues of amber. I watched as white clouds thinned above me and forced the image to remain in my mind — anything to distract me from the sudden pressure I felt.
All at once, the world glazed over. A shaky breath left my lips when the sting in my eyes refused to fade. The grass to my right shifted. Suddenly, I was grateful for the small distance between us.
Though I tried to ignore the discomfort, I felt the word move its way to my throat. It sank like a stone, and for a moment I couldn’t breathe.
“I don’t know,” he whispered, just loud enough so I could hear. “It’s hard — as hell, and you won’t always get it right…”
“But?” I prodded, voice watery and hoarse.
“But when you do,” he said, awe coating every word, “it’s like magic.”
We sat comfortably in the silence that lingered between us.
Tears slipped down the sides of my face before I found the courage to turn and face him; our features — so similar, yet so incredibly different.
“I know you’re struggling to find that magic for yourself, just...don’t overthink it.” He shifted to smile at me. “It’s not about the places you’ll go or the things you’ll wear. In the end, it’ll come down to who you are. In the stillness of each moment, when your soul is louder than the world, I promise that magic you’re looking for will find you. You just have to be patient enough to see it.” I slapped his hand away when he ruffled my hair.
Despite the haze in my eyes, the corners of my mouth arched upward. A small laugh took its chance and escaped my lips. “There you go,” he said through a laugh of his own. “Just keep doing that, and you’ll be okay.” Though the discomfort had lifted a bit, it was not enough to halt my abrupt realization.
“You’re not real,” I sighed, hating the truth of those words.
“No,” he replied, “But someday, I will be.”
Time was the only difference between his reflection and mine.