Could referring to myself as a “happy girl,” like a Gen Z Tik Tokker, actually make me one?
I experienced an odd incident last year. If only I could afford this, everything would work out, I thought on five or six instances when I needed money for something, such as a plane ticket to see someone I love, a hefty credit card bill, or a necessary item that needed repairing. A job that paid that precise amount per pound would then be presented to me within a day or two, or I would be able to travel with my job to the exact location I desired. It was a fortunate and fortunate year.
In this chilly, difficult January, nothing is excruciatingly horrible, but I wouldn’t really call anything particularly “excellent” either. Disappointments can start to cut rather than scratch when you live and work alone and your only social interaction of the day is complaining about your difficulties to the nicest man at the coffee shop who always gives you extra stamps on your loyalty card.
All of this is to argue that I am the best candidate for “happy girl syndrome,” the newest social media craze that promises to make your life better. In actuality, generation Z ladies are simply repackaging the new age manifestation theory, which holds that if you think about something you want as if you already have it or have achieved it, it will appear manifest. You claim, “Great things always happen to me,” and then wonderful things do. It’s rather reminiscent of what I unknowingly did last year. And it’s not surprising that videos about this have gained a lot of attention on TikTok at the start of 2023 – a month is known for gloomy weather and the impression that the year hasn’t yet begun.
The majority of the videos are unusually arrogant. The unorthodox story of a lucky woman and her lover manifesting a home is bizarre (they had the money for a deposit, and put it down on a house). “Be fucking delusional and believe in yourself,” is her advice. I decided to give it a go in an effort to have a lucky 2023 since I have a tendency to be naive and because I’m a romantic and a writer, two of the craziest and most unrealistic things to be.
I understand manifestation quite well. I created “vision boards” and experimented with manifestation when I was in my teens and early twenties. I’m not sure how much I believed it, but I do think that manifestation can work in some cases – not through magical forces, but rather because it makes you more aware of the beautiful things in life and encourages you to build your life around them by looking for them. According to science, those who have defined goals are more likely to succeed in achieving them. Being upbeat is often beneficial.
However, manifestation is likely also harmful because it encourages an obsessive focus on the self and self-actualization. When individuals look for luck, it’s luck for themselves—for money, fame, and romantic connections. It joins a variety of spiritual practices that younger generations are reimagining as a form of “wellness.” For example, we now have haphazard teenagers and early-twenties girls with handles like “hotdopepriestess” who have read Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and are offering tarot card readings and workshops on how to manifest money. The same companies that have been operated by members of the spiritual community for years are now being marketed to and by a younger generation. Perhaps this was the logical next step for the wellness sector in a downturn in the economy: without the resources to satisfy our own happiness, we are now resorting to the paranormal.
I start to feel smug as I remind myself that I’m a lucky girl. It’s easy and requires no effort; I don’t even have to consider what specifically I want; it just works out beautifully. I’m hoping that if I keep telling myself this, something significant will occur between the time I’m hired to write an article about the syndrome and when I submit it. While the hours go by, nothing happens. I might end up missing my deadline. I glance out the usual windows and observe the same people fretting over their families while looking over the purple sky outside. A couple is cuddling in their kitchen. I feel a shadow of loneliness cross my chest as I consider how miserable England must be right now. But I always have wonderful things happen to me.
I then check my email and message a friend, making jokes about how wonderful things are always occurring to me. My ability to depart the nation soon has been assured due to a piece of employment. What if there was a chance for yet another oddly fortunate year?