Is Your Past Kicking Your Ass?

The other day I was backing my computer up onto my external hard drive. I was going through all of my pictures from when I was abroad and from my four years at college, and it was difficult. I didn’t expect it to be, but it was. I couldn’t really figure out what I was feeling. Definitely nostalgia. I was missing my friends. I wanted to go back to those times when all you had to worry about was getting your paper done so you could go out. I wanted to go back to when I was studying in London and traveling on the weekends. I wanted to go back to living in the same apartment with my friends and not having to plan trips months in advance to see them. I wanted to go back to a time when it was okay to just lay in bed instead of going to your random science class that you had to take to fulfill a requirement. Eventually I had to stop sorting through everything because I started to feel overwhelmed.

This made me think about how we handle the past. I’m pretty sure I’m letting my past kick my ass, and I didn’t realize it until just now. It’s okay to feel nostalgic for great memories you’ve had, but it’s not healthy to feel sadness when you think about past experiences and memories. Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to think about my time abroad because I miss it so much. I can’t even think about my junior year of school because it was such an amazing year and I would give anything to go back to it. I can’t even think about freshman year because I miss how simple everything was. I miss all of the memories my friends and I made and the friendships we were just starting to build. I love my life now, but those times were so fun and all of my best friends were living in a three block radius. Chris and I didn’t have much responsibility. If we wanted to take a long weekend to travel or go to a concert we could do it. It was a great time in our lives.

And that’s how you should view the past. As a great time in your life. There’s no reason to feel sadness or longing. Nostalgia is okay. Sadness is not. You can’t let the past keep control of you. It wouldn’t do you much good to be 19 forever. Instead of focusing on the fact that the times are over, you have to focus on all the ways you’ve grown since then. I’ve grown so much in the past six months, let alone in the time since I was a freshman in college. When I think about all of the things I’ve experienced I can’t imagine going back to a time when I didn’t have that knowledge or perspective.

But simply blocking out your past from your thoughts is no way to live. Your past is a huge part of who you are today and it’s important to recognize that. Enjoy the memories, but don’t feel sadness for times that are over. Appreciate how they’ve shaped you today. Would it be fun to go back to my time abroad? Absolutely. But I should also feel proud of the progress and the maturity I’ve gained. I’m doing my past a disservice if I don’t let myself reminisce and remember the amazing, fun things I’ve experienced. What was the point in learning, struggling, having fun, staying up all night, etc. if you’re just going to erase it when you get older? The point of doing something is so you enjoy it, remember it, and hopefully learn from it.

How do you feel about your past? Is it kicking your ass? What do you think your past’s role should be in your present/future?

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