The Dangers of Nostalgia

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Living at my parents’ house for the past 5 weeks has been equally lovely and triggering in its own ways. At first, being back here for a long period of time signaled to my brain that I must be going through some kind of life transition (i.e. home for the summer between different years of college, looking for a job post college, home for a holiday, etc.). As time moves on, I realize that these past few weeks have felt more like my early high school years than anything (not able to drive/ go anywhere, don’t really hang out with friends).  Frankly, if there are any few years of my life that I had to relive, these would not be the years of my choosing. 

One of the strangest things that I have noticed during this time are all the memories that keep resurfacing; memories from my childhood, teens, and more. I’m thinking of events, feelings, and moments that in some cases, I never have before. To further this, I recently found old diaries and journals that I used to keep, reminding me of old friends I haven’t thought of, crushes I couldn’t stop thinking about, cool places I’ve been to, and so much more. 

The more that I get stuck in old memories and feelings, the more frustrated I become with my present situation. I find myself becoming frustrated with my parents; not because of anything they did in the present moment, but because of something that happened that I was 14. Looking through my study abroad journal, I become deeply saddened that I might not travel again in the near future, or even be able to start my first semester of graduate school in person. 

Nostalgia is both a blessing and a curse. While it can be fun to reminisce on old moments, it is important to keep yourself in check. Are you getting stuck in these moments, feelings, or thoughts? Are they preventing you from being present in your current moments? 

Personally, I’ve had to take time to work through some of the feelings that have been brought up due to my nostalgia. One of the biggest questions I’ve had to ask myself is “Does this really matter right now”? Nine times out of ten, it does not. Something that happened in my past has little to nothing to do with what I am going through now, even if some of those past feelings are starting to feel familiar again. Memories make us who we are, but we cannot let them consume us.

The only two things that have been able to get me out of my nostalgic funks during this time are deep breathing exercises and physical movement. Through these activities, I am finally able to clear my thoughts and be more present. 

Focusing on the present has been keeping me sane during this quarantine. If I’m anywhere but the present, it is more likely than not a pretty dark place. I know for a fact that I am not the only one who is feeling this way, either. I encourage you to take some moments today, and try to truly be present with yourself and those who you are with.

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