Does blasting music through your headphones on work commute sometimes make you feel like you’re in a movie?
Do you find yourself daydreaming to your beloved tunes, immersed in a fictitious narrative where you’re pretending to be completely someone else?
No, this is not your average main character syndrome. What you might be experiencing is the life soundtrack phenomenon.
A quick search on the good old Google will bring up countless quizzes promising that based on some rather vague questions, you will make the ultimate discovery – your life soundtrack.
The term seems to point towards a concept we’re all well-acquainted with, even if we don’t realize it.
So why does it happen?
Music is closer to us than ever before
People have enjoyed music ever since it first came to existence, but technological advancements have brought music closer to us than ever – literally.
Instead of needing to depend on stereos and turntables to listen to your favorite songs, you can download music instantaneously to your digital gadgets. Wherever you are, music is always at the convenience of your fingertips, creating a music soundtrack that follows you around.
It can motivate you
It’s no secret that music makes you feel good.
But science has also found that music can activate certain reward systems in your brain, which will add a dose of motivation to your daily life.
That’s why many people prefer to play their favorite songs as a background soundtrack while studying or working. Your brain responds to the way music boosts your dopamine levels and helps you retain information.
It can also make certain boring tasks easier to get through.
You might be dreading the lull of doing your laundry and the bone-deep ache of running errands on a Saturday afternoon.
The secret recipe to surviving those agonizing experiences is plugging your headphones, raising the volume – to a reasonable level because hearing damage is no fun – and pressing the play button on your favorite playlist.
We associate music with our memories
Many consider the soundtrack of one’s life to embody the iconic songs you’ve loved throughout the years.
Whether that translates into your high school sweetheart tunes, songs you used to blast through the headphones during middle-school bus rides, or the beats you heard at prom, your life’s soundtrack is a timeline that summarizes your life.
There’s a scientific reason people love throwbacks so much.
Music activates your brain’s visual sensors, which associate the memories you’re experiencing with the music you’re listening to.
Take the following scenario as a solid example.
You’re in the car, driving to your corporate job when an early 2000s R&B hit starts playing on the radio.
Your brain will immediately give you flashbacks of your goldie high school years when your go-to weekend activity was getting tipsy from a beer can while listening to Dr. Dre.
Life soundtracks romanticize our lives
Let’s face it – beyond science, this phenomenon helps us romanticize our lives.
Self-love and idealization sit at the core of what is coined on TikTok as the main character syndrome. This social media translates into a way of shifting someone’s perspective about their own life, driving towards a lifestyle that is appreciative of the little things and focused on introspective self-care.
There are even some YouTube tutorials giving you a step-by-step guide on how to be the main character of your life.
The person in question imagines they are the main star of a film that – yes, you got that right – revolves around their daily life. That’s pretty much the epitome of excessive zeal.
And what do we love most about feature films beyond the A-list celebrities and overused tropes?
If a song plays at a pivotal moment in a movie, you’re likely to create a connection between the soundtrack and what you’ve experienced, both in a visual and emotional way.
A quick peek at Spotify displays all kinds of playlists and soundtracks dedicated to making you feel like you’re the main character.
You can find everything you need from a ‘main character walk’ playlist – in case you want to feel like a badass – to a ‘main character villain arc’ (no judgements made here).
This movement towards centering our lives around our own happiness while romanticizing the mundane parts isn’t a bad thing.
In fact, imagination and daydreaming appear to have many positive side effects on our minds and bodies.
So why not put on your ‘main character moment’ playlist and pretend life is a little more exciting than it usually seems?