This morning I woke up aching from my “its complicated” status relationship. You know the kind of longing where you can’t even breathe let alone get out of bed? Heartbreak is no fun. I was woken up at 8am to a text from my boss asking me to work not one but two extra shifts today. There goes my plan of moping in bed eating ice cream and bonding with netflix. Instead I was faced with 10 hours of thinking about it. And in those 10 hours, I decided this post needed to be made. Its about nostalgia. More specifically, how nostalgia is lying to you.
Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past. While this is true, it is also a dangerous thing. Nostalgia shows you the past through a rose tinted memory. It has you longing for a time already gone. I want you to think about the last time you were nostalgic for. Maybe it was an old friend? An old relationship? Whatever the topic, we look back with a nostalgic feeling, often wishing we could go back. But nostalgia is deceptive. It shows us only the good memories of that time. We look back in fondness at a time that in reality may not have been how we remember it.
I had a friend in secondary school from second year until around the end of fourth year. We were a part of a tight-knit group that would do anything fro each other, and this guy was our outgoing leader. We worshipped the ground he walked on, changed ourselves to be more like him, even disliked the same people he did. I thought he was the coolest, funniest person Id ever met, and I went to ridiculous attempts to get his attention. Things started changing in fourth year when our group started to fall apart. I made new friends outside the group, and our leader disliked that as he disliked the people I was talking to. He went as far as to turn the people still in the group against me, making me feel like I had to choose between growing up and expanding my circle or staying in the group.
It was at this point that our unwavering faith in him started to crumble and we saw him for what he really was. The group fell apart, with only three of the originals staying together, nothing that has happened over the past seven years has managed to split us up yet. Even now though, four years after the last time we really talked to the leader, I find new ways he negatively influenced my mindset. Despite all this, I look back fondly on a lot of our memories. Times we laughed until we cried, walking through the woods and finding a mug that we stole to use as a pencil holder, building a tower of chocolate milk cartons.
I would never trade those memories for the world, yet I would never choose to go back to that time. Why? Because I know this is just nostalgia. I will always have those good memories, but nostalgia is telling me that this time has passed, and though we can look back and smile, sometimes its for the best if we dont go back. Some things should stay in the past.
Surprisingly, my will to write this post came from my ex boyfriend, who will probably read this post when it goes up so hello you know who you are! We dated for a while in third year, started off friends, ended as friends, classic first love story. We still talk every now and then, even just to check in for a little while and see how the other one is. Its nice. I look back on our time together both as friends and as a couple so fondly, and though I wouldnt want to go back to being a third year with crippling anxiety and commitment issues, I would never trade that time for the world. That is the power of nostalgia.
The important thing is to not let it control you. Living in the past is no good for anyone. While yes, we have our memories, that time is done and we cannot go back. While you may think its a good idea to reach out to an old friend, go back to an old hangout or whatever the situation, you need to remember the time as a whole, not just the good parts. For instance, I had a best friend who I ended up falling out with because of my Its Complicated (hindsights 2020 right?).
I reached out to her a few weeks ago after not talking for over a year to clear the air, and we ended up talking all night. While it was so good to talk to her again, we both knew it was the last conversation we were going to have. I still see posts that I want to tag her in, I still see things Id love to send to her that I know she’d like, but that time of my life is done. As sad as it is, we need to move on. So if nostalgia makes you want to reach out to a former friend, consider why they are Former Friends. Don’t put yourself into a situation you fought your way out of because you miss the good times. We must look forward, not back.
Lots of love,