While perfection is understood to be an impossible goal to achieve, ironically, romanticized visions of perfection repeatedly appear in advertisements, fairy tales, television, religion and any other entity that has the goal of garnering an audience or a following. And while being a romantic is something I myself will honestly admit to being and hope to never lose hold of, when we buy into the romanticized version while being ignorant of the reality, then we tend to get into trouble.
Here are five things to stop romanticizing:
1. The Perfect Relationship
Unlike in math, two negatives do not make a positive. In other words, two imperfect people do not magically make a perfect relationship. Without two healthy, happy individuals, a healthy, happy relationship cannot ensue. And even when two secure, independent individuals enter into a relationship, there will be hiccups along the way as you begin to understand each other. The most important thing is to involve yourself in a relationship where both parties respect each other and are devoted to the relationship.
2. Prince Charming/Cinderella
Prince Charming doesn’t exist, so stop looking for him, and you are not Cinderella, so stop trying to be perfect and just be yourself. In other words, people are flawed. And because we are flawed it means we have the opportunity to learn and grow endlessly if we choose to. No matter what your relationship status, make it a daily goal to continually become your best self, and understand that others too are on their own journey of growth. It is those individuals who want to learn and are trying to be their best selves, all the while enjoying the journey, that you want to seek out.
3. The Perfect Place to Live
Any Chamber of Commerce worth its salt will present their city, town, or region, in the most flattering light possible. But there is not one perfect place to call home. While New York City may be the dream city to live in for many, to others it may be unsettling. And on the flipside, a small town such as Joseph, Oregon, (population approx. 1,700) may offer stunning views of nature, but be too isolating for others. There is not one ideal place to live. And the only way to know where you belong is to step outside your front door and investigate. Fly to that city you’ve always dreamt about, breath the air, step into the shops, meet the people and walk the sidewalks. Then you will know where you belong.
4. The American Dream
Depicted profusely following WWII for a laundry list of propaganda reasons, the cliché of a white picket fence, a home in the suburbs, two kids, blithely happy mom and dad and a dog, is a vision that while we know is idealized, still sometimes slips into the subconscious as a safe decision – an decision accepted by society. And while this depiction may genuinely bring many people happiness, to assume it must bring happiness to all is to winnow away true fulfillment to everyone who wishes to listen to what genuinely makes them feel content.
No matter what your country of origin, your dream should not be dictated by anyone else but what you value to be most important and your ability to be authentically yourself.
5. The Definition of Success
While the dictionary states the definition of success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”, there can be pressure placed to earn a certain amount of money, wear certain clothes, and follow and create the aforementioned “American Dream”, thereby creating a very strict definition of success. The good news is that contrary to the rigid assumptions of success, it should actually be whatever you deem it to be for yourself. Depending upon where you start and how hard you’ve had to work to attain the goal you’ve had your eyes on, a success that may appear small to some may feel like a ginormous achievement to you. And if you feel successful, then you are. No outside approval is necessary.
All five of these scenarios affect us in some capacity, and while each is part of our lives at some point, the key is to not fall prey to the idealized version. In order to not make that mistake, it is imperative that we understand the truth behind the façade. Because there is a façade whether we want to accept that or not. Hollywood idealizes the perfect relationship in chic flicks, New York City is dressed up and sterilized in our favorite sitcoms, and fashion advertisements project visions of perfection and glamour.
Once we understand that there is life after the final scene and walking in four inch heels for 20 blocks is insanely stupid and painful, and no matter how fabulous you look on the outside, you must have an intelligent thought to convey as well, then by all means enjoy a light-hearted Kate Hudson movie, dive into the Big Apple and fall in love and wear those chic new Jimmy Choos. Because life is about chasing your dreams, because they really can happen . . . but always remember to do your homework first.
7 thoughts on “5 Things to Stop Romanticizing”
I just had a guy I really liked end things this weekend and am feeling really low and doing that whole “what’s wrong with me?” thing, so I really needed to read some of these words. Thanks! Your blog is so beautiful and inspiring!
If there is such a thing as the secret to happiness, I believe it’s about being happy with where you are, wherever you are. You don’t have to stop striving, but realizing that things are pretty good as they are is such a relief. Reaching goals becomes a bonus, not a matter of life or death.
I have to remind myself every day not to romanticize relationships, other people’s lives, career, the future, etc. The truth is that I couldn’t have planned the crazy twists and turns my life has taken. When I worry about an outcome or the future, I must remind myself that I have no way of really controlling this crazy life and it always works out for the best…or even better.
I seem to be having the conversation a lot lately. As my friends and I approach 30, there are a lot of people who feel they haven’t achieved what they hoped they would by this age. You give great advice here, Shannon. Thank you!
Beautiful post! I love the way you describe the topics and your writing style is very sleek.
Greetings from Joanna J. and her family 🙂
This was a great post! I especially enjoyed no. 4: “… while this depiction may genuinely bring many people happiness, to assume it must bring happiness to all is to winnow away true fulfillment …”
While I think that loving other people in some way ultimately makes all humans happiest, married in the suburbs with the picket fence doesn’t make everyone happy.
I think the opposite is true as well… to a lot of us of the younger generation, we were told that the way to happiness was following a different path — i.e. a busy and successful career. Which I had, and enjoyed! But imagine my surprise when, after moving to a new city before having the chance to seek out a new job, I finally found out the happiest I’ve ever been was keeping the house.
P.S. – And after having done my accounting and taxes for the year, I found that financially — by the time we paid for transportation, food costs, clothes — working wasn’t actually netting me all that much. I was surprised when I looked at the bottom line. An extra handbag every now and again isn’t worth that to me! Turns out, I added up that running a home (cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, dropping off dry cleaning, etc.) is about a part-time job (20 hours per week) between two people. If I can accomplish all these tasks during the day, then both my husband and I can relax and enjoy other pursuits and each other’s company in the evenings.
I have been having bad luck with men since 2012 when I was assaulted and I feel its something wrong with me until I am around people that really know me and like me. Its just bad choices and rushing into things without much thought. Thanks for the post im just going to focus on myself for now. im too scared to get involved.