I’ll be honest, I enjoy a good romcom, like When Harry Met Sally, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, One Small Hitch, you know the kind. There’s just something about happy endings and life working out just so. I think it’s a habit of our culture, we romanticize most things in life. (Social media has helped exacerbate this delusion). The challenge of living life like a romcom is that we sometimes forget life is harsh and that it’s not all happy endings nor without struggle. There’s a line I heard in a show that sums this up, “you might find the reality less romantic than you imagined.” How many times in life has that been true for me? More than I’d like to admit.
Social media is a big culprit. The perfectly curated images of the perfect aspects of our (very imperfect) lives. They are mirages, illusions, (maybe delusions) of what our life really looks like. This isn’t to say we lead lives of pure misery. It simply means it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s sugar AND spice. It’s rain AND sunshine. It’s the mountain AND the valley. Life is both/and.
A great example of such romantic ideas is owning your own business. (I may have some personal experience here). You’re the boss, in charge of yourself, you choose your hours, you get other people to do your work for you. That’s the romantic idea but not the reality. The reality is much rougher, with more sweat, and more risk. There are a LOT more tears than people know and sacrifice for the service of others than people see. It takes grit to live the reality of a business owner rather than the romantic vision. In my experience, that’s also what makes it that much more beautiful and rewarding. The building of something outside myself and providing for others makes the risk worth it. The service is rendered sweeter because of the sweat. Roots wouldn’t be if there wasn’t perseverance through the rough and tough; if I didn’t choose the reality over the romance.
There’s a beauty and a need for friction. We need to experience setbacks, failures, and struggles to experience the fullness of the romance. A romcom is no good if there isn’t the blundering struggle to get the guy or girl. The joy of the reality isn’t fully felt without hardship. The grit and the trials are what draw out the beauty IN the romance. If you’ve ever seen the movie About Time, which everyone says is a romcom but I don’t believe it, you’ll see this. It’s an absolutely beautiful movie, but only because it contains great sorrow as well as laughter and romance. (Seriously though, if you haven’t seen that movie you really should. It’s so good!)
Life is full of joy and romance. Owning my own business has been such an incredible blessing for so many years. But the full beauty, the full romance, is captured in the full story. It blooms from the trials. It is not possible without them.
Let us not be caught up in good intentions for romantic dreams but embrace the friction that comes with reality. It’s what shapes us into what we are created to be. What really is rather than what we will it to be.