The new romantics

It’s a tempting idea to live out our days with a constant sense of idealism, a surface feeling of how ‘things are always better than they seem’, a life of soft skies and whispering winds. On the flip side, it is a grounding idea to live our lives in just that manner: grounded. Your reality is exactly what it seems, a cup of coffee is just your fuel for the day, you have a list of things to get done and there’s no secret meaning to it all. 

There’s no saying which way of life is right and which wrong. Perhaps, the kinder thing to do would be to find a nice balance between both these lives: be at one with the reality of your life and circumstance, and find pockets of joy in it, anyway. 

Romanticizing one’s life seems to be catching fire these days, particularly amongst the younger generation. So, what does it mean, exactly? The idea of romanticism, or my perspective of it, is that you simply elevate your daily tasks, your routines, the route you walk every day and by elevate, I mean, add an extra layer of meaning to it. Of course, there is no deep, philosophical reason about why you walk this route every day. The rational part of your brain knows it’s your way to work, it’s perhaps the shortest or more pedestrian friendly, whatever it is, but if you’re someone who’s a budding romantic, you can unionize your daily walk with something that’ll make it a tad more exciting for you, a little less robotic and a little more human. On some days, that route you walk could be where you listen to a new podcast, or an audiobook, or you call your father. Maybe on this route, some days you take a picture of the flowers you walk past, or one of your shoes amongst fallen autumn leaves, or you smile at the person always sitting outside the corner shop. There you go: your walk is now more than a means to an end, it is potentially something you look forward to, a space to clear your thoughts after a long day or a split-second joy of smiling at a stranger, you are more than just another person living just another day. You are a romantic. 

However, for those of us who are both budding romantics and hooked to social media, there is a dangerous line we don’t want to cross. Many of us add an extra oomph to our lives through the pictures we post, or the stories we share. That’s fine, of course it is, but is it truly representing you? Are you posting a picture of a matcha latte every day but really, you don’t even like it? Are you hyping up a party on your story, but you actually just want to go home and watch Pride and Prejudice again? From where I stand, romanticizing your life doesn’t mean leading a life that’s fundamentally not who you are, or representative of your reality. Don’t go to a restaurant you cannot afford that week just because it’ll look good on your Instagram, that’s not being a romantic and also, romanticism is not reserved for just some people with certain privileges. Maybe someone with more access can afford to take a trip to an island on a whim, put flowers in their hair and feel happy, and that’s okay. But you don’t have to chase that. You set your own standards. You take a walk to your Tesco for your weekly shop, and put a flower in your hair, anyway. Buy a really wonky mug that you like, that’ll help you smile even the slightest when you have your morning caffeine. Paint some of your nails yellow, and some pink, whether you’re a boy or a girl or neither. Write a really bad poem, and a really good one too and then, go to work. Romanticism for me isn’t chasing a standard of living, it’s accepting where you currently are and enjoying that. 

There has to be more to us than the level of productivity we can generate, the money we earn, the things we do. Maybe romanticizing some aspects of our day can help us find that again: who are we beyond whatever output it is that we get reduced to? Maybe the upcoming generation puts its foot down, tears apart the era of constant hustle and grind and sleepless nights; there is nothing romantic about sheer mental and physical exhaustion for the chase of potential fulfilment. Maybe truly finding magic in our morning lattes, or in cotton candy skies while we chase our all-important dreams will mean we are healthy when we reach those dreams, and we are truly happy. So, put a flower in your hair, find a part of a day to do something just for yourself, no matter how good you are it, take a polaroid picture of a random meal on a random day; let’s usher in the new romantics.  

[Hooran M. Khattak – she/her – @hooran.m]

[Photo credit: Reggienald Suarez]

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