4 Things We Must Stop Romanticizing

As I was writing these, I noticed a definite theme. Can you catch it at a glance? I believe the theme, and bottom line, is suppressing emotions. I’m sure there’s many more things we romanticize as a culture than these four, but I notice these driving me insane quite frequently. I’m not immune to it either. The whole point of romanticizing is that it makes it sound appealing. So, read on and don’t be fooled.

1. Drinking to feel or not feel emotions.

This ideology is mostly found in the high school, college, and post-grad crowd. We’ll go out drinking with friends after a hard day. We’ll pour ourselves a glass of wine when we’re in a deep conversation about relationships gone bad. We’ll start drinking at 3 pm on Thursday because we think it’s “cool”. What’s not cool? Alcoholism. Liver damage. Psyche damage. The fact that there’s more than 3 million cases of alcoholism per year in the US alone.

“Okay, grandma, calm down. What’s the big deal?” Alcohol is addictive. When you start drinking while tied up with emotions (read above), you’re training your brain to turn to alcohol when you want to feel or don’t want to feel emotions. This is loosely the foundation of alcoholism, my friend.

Don’t read this wrong. I’m not condemning beers with your buddies at a BBQ or catching a drink after work. I’m talking about drinking with any sort of an emotional charge. Reflect on it for bit. If you want more, but aren’t sure where to start, go here.

2. Staying up all night to study.

Sacrificing your mental health and well being to write a paper does not make you a hero. Particularly in the US, we equate “no sleep” to “good student”. I think this is a two part penalty. First, the teachers need to stop assigning ~6 hours worth of homework each night. A lot of students work or have extracurriculars so it’s mathematically impossible to sustain a life and relationships with a work load that suggests insanity. Second part: students need to stop glorifying all nighters. Sure, once in a blue moon, you may not have a choice. But you have to take care of yourself. Staying up till 4 am so you can get an A and not feel shitty about yourself the next day is not taking care of yourself. You have to believe that whatever you do is “good enough”.

3. Eating disorders.

Fortunately, there are lots of people lately coming to the forefront of this battle. Eating disorders are sneaky and extremely damaging (mentally, physically, emotionally). Yet, we live in a culture that holds up the thin while treading on the average and overweight. Clothes are ideally made for women between sizes 0–3. As are carnival rides, airplane seats, restaurant booths, the list can go on. Every magazine is plastered with “Lose that baby weight!” and “Fit into your skinny jeans!” as if extra fat is a crime (especially after carrying a baby for 9 months, what the hell, society).

Stop complimenting people based on their weight or size. Phrases like “You’re so lucky you’re so skinny!” and “I wish I looked like you” perpetuate these issues. You have no idea if someone is seriously struggling with an eating disorder. I could honestly do a whole other series just on this topic, but I’ll end the rant here for now.

4. Suicide.

Every suicide is a tragedy. Every suicide leaves a hole where there used to be a whole. Every suicide brings unmeasurable amounts of grief. So how is it that it’s glorified? It’s glorified through sadness. It’s held up by romanticizing self-harming behaviors and the notion of a meek and fragile personality being appealing. Suicide itself is already alluring to those struggling with deep depression as a “way out”. But more allure is created when we idealize depressive moods and secluded personalities (read “Hollywood movies”). If you or someone you love seems withdrawn and in a fragile state of mind, please reach out.

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Originally published at somethingaboutsofiab.com on September 19, 2015.

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