ART BY ESTELLE ZHOU
By CAROL LI
Girl meets boy, they fall in love, and suddenly all their problems are solved and they live happily ever after.
Though this scenario is present in a multitude of media, a romantic relationship does not solve all personal problems or destroy obstacles in life. Because media establishes this precedent of wishful thinking, people should take a step back and realize that only they themselves are capable of modifying their lives for the better.
For example, in numerous facets of entertainment, the significant other often serves as the source of encouragement for a character to become a better person. However, if people are constantly relying on the love of their life for motivation and support, they will become extremely dependent and consider their partner’s thoughts as superior to their own.
Furthermore, placing an emphasis on the idea of teenagers pursuing romance is inappropriate as they are still growing mentally. Additionally, romance pulls one away from developing themselves because a relationship, in and of itself, is extremely time-consuming. In fact, studies indicate that the frontal lobes of the brain, which control behavior as well as the ability to make proper judgments, may not be fully developed until thirty years of age. Moreover, on top of deciding their major, adolescents are further developing their personalities and realizing certain behaviors they should and should not have. What’s more is that high school does not provide an environment for healthily romantic relationships to grow, especially with drama from peers and the fact that it distracts teenagers from receiving a fruitful education. Thus, if adolescents put their main priority as finding a significant other, it may cause an impediment to individual advancement.
Nevertheless, the media’s idealistic portrayals of romantic relationships may appeal to individuals because these scenarios suggest that problems in life can be easily fixed. Essentially, teenagers hurt themselves in the long run by waiting for “prince charming” instead of pursuing their own dreams and aspirations.
Although the media constantly justifies these sacrifices of independence with cliche messages about the power of love, in reality, people are throwing away their limitless potential and unique character. As the media pushes the dependent narrative of romantic relationships upon teenagers, many will grow accustomed to centering their actions based on others’ beliefs. Ultimately, this mentality destroys the backbone that individuals have in regards to having their own opinion.
In addition, placing immense value into romantic relationships can result in a lack of investment in others. For example, the second person “before anything else” is not the only person individuals interact with. Family and friends are still important, and sometimes adolescents under the influence of media sometimes forget about others who care just as much about them as their significant other.
Likewise, people may adopt a worse mindset if their relationship does not live up to the expectations set in media. While many movies and books include some form of a happy ending, in reality, not every romantic experience is positive. Therefore, as teenagers’ first relationships unexpectedly fall apart, their self-esteem may plunge and their optimistic attitude may diminish, affecting many aspects of their lives.
As a result, society does not need extravagant stories about meeting “prince charming.” Instead, media should focus on depicting a realistic image of relationships. An individual should not rely on movies to guide their romantic life, and they should remember that love, while heavily accentuated in society, is not the only ingredient of a happy life.