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the odd ways of nostalgia

September 8, 2020

I believe everyone has a vision of an ideal self. The person you’d like to be or the person you used to be. When we grow up we seek to be this person, or we mourn the person we once were. Not often do we look at our present selves and think “I’m fine with who I am now.” There is always room for self-improvement or for something we have lost. We either live in the future or in the past.

Growing up is scary. I’m about to finish university and face the world. I tend to look at my past and think, yeah, being a child was totally cool. Not only didn’t I have to think about how to pay my rent, but I also enjoyed things without worrying too much about them. I listened to the music that I connected with. I read books that were cool. They formed me, made me the person I am today. I love these things. But if you live long enough, you see yourself become the vill—I’m just joking. What I mean is you get to reflect on the things that were formative to you and realize that not every single thing was perfect. There are so many flaws that become apparent! Damn, that’s a scary thing to realize.

We tend to idealize the things we love. Hell, I’m so guilty of it. It’s not easy to admit then that the person you admire is pretty shitty, although you enjoyed the art they created. Art is deeply personal. You can’t separate art from the artist. The person who created it always shines through. Art is not objective. If I learned one thing from studying Literature, it’s that art is always a product of its time and the person who created it.

We care so much about art. That’s why we get to criticize it. We love it so much even though we don’t always agree with it, and sometimes that hurts. That’s why it’s totally okay to let go of it, eventually, and move on.

I find myself clinging to things that were really important to me in the past. A music album I’ve been listening to. A TV show I watched. A book series I adored. Consuming them again today is a bit of an odd experience. It’s like getting a glimpse of your former self. You see the place where you used to be. It is okay to go back to a place. You can dwell in memories, but you need to be aware they’re just that—memories. There is a reason why you’ve grown from this point in life and why you’re not at the same place anymore.

It took a bit of time for me to realize that this place in the past will always remain there. An idealized place with my idealized self. It gives me comfort. It makes me nostalgic. It makes me miss times that are long gone. It is always there for me to visit, but it shouldn’t define the present. It shouldn’t cloud my mind while there are other things that are waiting to be discovered. Music that is unheard or books that are unread, waiting to be loved by me.

One thing I miss about being “younger” is experiencing things for the first time. Don’t you sometimes wish to experience the book you love like the first time you read it? But you know what’s great? There will be another book waiting for you, that you will read the first time and that you will love even more. You can always go back to things you love and lose nothing. But you always can go forward, and you can gain so much more.

Letting go is okay. It doesn’t mean it’s out of your life, but it means that you can move on without something holding you back. You can move on and still enjoy the same things while seeing the flaws. There are so many stories out there that will amaze you just as much; you’re just older, and that’s all, really.

Love, Sanne

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the entire credit of this article and its photos goes to Susanne Becker aka papierplanet

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