In the 1950s, it was known as “positive thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. Oprah later popularized it as “manifesting” on her talk show in the noughties. Recently, TikTok has given it a new name: “delulu,” short for delusional. This trend revolves around the belief that setting unrealistic expectations for oneself and fervently believing in achieving them can make dreams come true. It spans various aspects of life, from career goals to relationships and mental well-being.
On TikTok, the hashtag #delulu has gained significant traction, amassing over 4.3 billion views. The term’s origin lies in the K-pop community, where it was initially used to describe an obsessive, parasocial fan. However, its meaning has evolved, and now it refers to becoming an obsessed fan of oneself, promoting radical self-confidence and self-assurance.
For content creators like Courtney Johnson, being “delulu” means approaching life with radical optimism and joy, disregarding negative comments, and focusing solely on positive aspects. Johnson shares career advice on TikTok to her audience of over 130,000 followers, embodying the delulu mindset by assuming her work’s importance and anticipating widespread appreciation.
While rooted in a concept similar to manifestation, delulu simplifies it for a broader audience, emphasizing living unexpectedly and creating a narrative where you are the central character. TikTokers view this trend as a self-aware and humorous way to combat insecurities and societal pressure.
Bianca Bello, a New York TikToker, describes delulu as having “more fun” and being “a little more silly” than the term “delusional.” She sees it as an opportunity to live unexpectedly and create a world where individuals narrate their own stories, embracing confidence and fighting against societal expectations.
The concept extends to “delusion-ship,” a dating habit where individuals accelerate or create a relationship entirely in their heads. While this may not be a long-term life strategy, it provides a confidence boost and a sense of self-efficacy.
While there’s no peer-reviewed research supporting the effectiveness of “delulu” moments, therapists acknowledge its potential benefits in boosting confidence and empowering individuals to own their choices. For now, on TikTok, “delulu” is the trend, offering a portal to more positive and romanticized outlooks until the next buzzword emerges.
Repurposed article originally published in The Guardian