Every morning, I woke up to the same view. Every afternoon, I took the same walk in the same park and passed by the same storefronts on the way to get groceries. Even before quarantine, monotony persisted in my daily life. The bus would bump along the same streets on the way to school. I would enter the same classrooms, follow the same bell schedule, and even the window next to my locker offered no release from the blandness of my routine.
Life was boring. I never felt like the main character, and the fear of being demoted to the likes of a perpetual sidekick had me searching frantically for answers. Where was the glittering appeal of the life I was living? While social media was flooded with beautiful supercuts of others’ seemingly perfect lives, I felt stuck in the gray limbo of a frustratingly normal life. Where was my soundtrack? Where was my main character role?
In a decidedly un-main-character-esque instance of clarity, I found a TikTok in which a user romanticizes her day in Boston, the very city I call home. Leave it to Gen Z to learn our most fulfilling life lessons on social media, but in truth, it was an enlightenment I was not yet ready to accept. As I watched her appreciate the cobblestone streets and parks I always passed, I realized that maybe it was my own bleak view of the world that was the problem.
Here’s the thing: I’m graduating from high school in a few months. I doubt I’m ever going to see my peers again, or my teachers, or the friendly office ladies who always compliment my hair as I’m trudging up the stairs and pretending not to be out of breath.
Seeing this TikTok, and realizing that I don’t have much time left in the seemingly ordinary life I lead now, I realized that perhaps things aren’t as terrible as I make them out to be. I realized that maybe life would be different, more vibrant, even, if I took a step back and viewed it from a romantic lens.
What if, as I walked down the streets I frequent every day after work, I put myself in the shoes of a new coworker? What if, as I entered a library or passed a museum or grabbed a muffin from a local bakery, I saw my world from the eyes of someone visiting for the first time?
There are a lot of people who say that romanticizing life is nothing but a delusion. I do agree that there are some things, like violence and mental illness, that should never be romanticized. But there’s still merit in the process, especially in times like quarantine when we might feel like hostages in our own homes.
Instead of looking around and lamenting my own life’s dullness compared to the glamour showcased on social media, I’ve decided to alter the pessimistic lens through which I view my surroundings. Instead of complaining about the harsh New England seasons, I smile at the feeling of joy that comes when springtime starts to bloom. Instead of turning up my nose at my city’s copy-and-paste rows of homes, I walk among the quaint townhomes and remind myself of their unique charm. Instead of spending my days thinking about all the things that make my life uninteresting, I try to find comfort and beauty in the mundane. I love my life now, the intimacy of quiet and the thrill of knowing that right now, my life is wholly wonderful.
Perhaps I am deluding myself into thinking that rainy Boston winters and days of online school are things to be celebrated, but the fondness I feel for my position in life right now is what keeps me content. Waking up in the morning and feeling grateful for my routine is far better than dragging myself through the day. If that’s delusion, then so be it.
I suddenly have the urge to hop on the train and make my way to Copley Square, a beautiful park near me, despite it being cold and raining outside right now. Somehow, I think this exercise of taking a step back and reevaluating my view of the world has helped me escape the monotony of everyday life. Reflecting on what I have missed out with my boredom blinders on makes my city’s familiar landmarks new sights. If we can trick our brains to occasionally give us some hope, to see that life is still vibrant in dark times, well…why don’t we?