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‘Lucky Girl Syndrome’ Won’t Solve Your Problems. TikTok Thinks Otherwise

“Be delusional!” might sound like terrible advice, but the viral manifestation technique has become a rallying cry for people who want more out of life.

Resolutions are out, and self-delusion is in. At least, it is according to TikTok, where Lucky Girl Syndrome—a viral manifestation hack—is purportedly helping women evade parking tickets, score Taylor Swift tickets, land brand deals, earn promotions at work, and more.

Popularized by creator Laura Galebe, the practice of Lucky Girl Syndrome is basically a combination of psychology's laws of attraction and assumption rebranded for the TikTok set. Per the law of attraction, positive thinking energetically attracts positive outcomes. And the law of assumption goes a step further, positing that what you assume to be true will become reality. It is not enough to believe that your hopes and dreams are possible. To become a lucky girl, you need to believe that good things are inevitable, abundant, and already coming to fruition for you—just like magic.

“Nothing ever doesn't go my way and, like, if it doesn't go the exact way that I want it to go, something better comes up after it,” Galebe explained in the viral TikTok that started the current conversation about the trend. “The thing is, it wasn't until I genuinely believed that great things just happened to me out of nowhere that things literally started flying at my face.”

The beauty of Lucky Girl Syndrome is that, in theory, anyone can begin cultivating it in minutes with daily affirmations like: “I am so lucky. Everything works out for me and I’m always in the right place at the right time.” Repeat often and confidently, then watch as your luck begins to change. But words alone won't be enough to rig the universe in your favor. As Galebe noted in a caption, “The secret is to assume and believe it before the concrete proof shows up.” In other words, for best results, you’re going to have to be delusional.

I've been rolling my eyes at New Age spirituality fads since The Secret. When people start talking about concepts like “energy” and “the universe,” the skepticism I inherited from my professorial Jewish father immediately starts to kick in. Manifestation is for women who drink chaga lattes, meet regularly with their Reiki healer, and earnestly practice past-life regression, not women like me.

That changed when, in the middle of the holiday season, it became incredibly clear that my relationship with my live-in boyfriend of two years was hurtling toward a nasty breakup. The circumstances couldn't have been worse. We shared a lease, a dog, and a social circle. We had visions of getting married someday. We were embedded in each other's families, gathering to celebrate every wedding, funeral, holiday, and milestone together. When a relationship dies, so does the tiny world that resides within it. Suddenly I found myself needing to build a new one.

With my life in tatters and my worldly possessions in boxes, I decided to put my fate in Lady Luck's hands. Magical thinking no longer seemed silly or pointless. So much had gone cosmically wrong that calling in a favor with the universe felt entirely appropriate.

I decided to start with the most pressing problem at hand: finding a new apartment. The morning after moving out of the home I shared with my ex, I woke up on my best friend's couch and declared out loud: “I'm so lucky. I can't believe I found the perfect place to live, exactly when I needed it.” By the end of the week, I had a room in Brooklyn waiting for me with little to no additional effort.

Next I tried to manifest something much more frivolous: a New Year's Eve kiss. It wasn't about moving on or jumping into another relationship. Love gone wrong had left me starved for physical intimacy and what I missed most was the simple pleasure of making out. As I got ready for my first night out as a freshly single woman, I looked in the mirror and dusted on an extra layer of Westman Atelier Beauty Butter Bronzer (thank me later). “Duh, I knew I'd run into my crush tonight,” I told my reflection. “No matter what, I'm always in the right place at the right time.” And with that, I was out the door.

Most of the evening was spent in the company of friends, party-hopping and dancing at our favorite gay club. Fifteen minutes before midnight, while waiting on the curb for an Uber, a very tall (and very hot) person smoking a cigarette outside a dive bar walked into my life. We didn't smooch on the spot, but we swapped numbers and sealed the deal a couple of days later.

"Be delusional” might sound like terrible advice. But on the clock app, it's become a rallying cry for women who want more out of life. In a postpandemic world governed by overlapping systems of oppression, it's a radical act to throw your limiting beliefs out the window and declare yourself worthy of great things—particularly for marginalized people, against whom the odds are so often stacked. As SZA recently joked during her Billboard cover shoot: “I've always been delusional, yes. And it has led me to great heights and very low lows.”

There is a shred of real wisdom in the trend. As Vice journalist Sophia Smith Galer pointed out in a TikTok of her own, the tenets of Lucky Girl Syndrome bear a striking resemblance to an evidence-based goal-setting methodology called WOOP (wish, outcome, obstacle, plan). Developed by psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen, who has been researching wish fulfillment for decades, WOOP makes it clear that dreaming is a critical step toward positive change. But only if those fantasies are followed up by a process called “mental contrasting,” wherein you assess the obstacles needed to achieve your goal and plan how to overcome them.

Lucky Girl Syndrome is an imperfect concept at best. And at worst, it brings up questions about racism, ableism, and narcissism. Privilege ensures the playing field is never truly level and most people don't have the luxury of strategically leaving their life to chance. No amount of positive thinking is going to help someone fight their way out of generational poverty or beat cancer, and it's materially damaging to suggest otherwise. “It’s no surprise that the majority of people celebrating the power of being a ‘Lucky Girl’ on TikTok are white, thin, and conventionally attractive,” Refinery29 writer Maggie Zhou observed.

Lucky Girl Syndrome didn't solve my problems. But it challenged me to notice and celebrate what went right instead of fixating on what went wrong. And more importantly, it forced me to become the all-knowing narrator of my life. The power of the stories we tell ourselves is well-documented in research. Although limited in scope and reliability, practicing Lucky Girl Syndrome got me through a very trying week. And now I get to decide where I want the plot to go from here.

This article was originally published on Glamour US.

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