Living for the Present Vs. Living in the Past

I’ll admit, I’m a very sentimental person. I get nostalgic all the time. Since I live in the same town where I went to college, I’m often hit with bursts of nostalgia. One quick drive through my college campus is enough to make me teary as I remember all of the great times I had as a wee little freshman babe. An appreciation of the past is good. It makes you remember where you came from and appreciate the memories that have shaped you into the person you are today. On the other hand, too many trips down memory lane and you start to focus less on making the present better and more on how great the past was. This quote has something to say about this issue:

Part of the reason why reminiscing feels so good is because we have complete control over the narrative. We can skip over the angsty, less-than-fun parts that happened and focus on the amazing “THIS IS HOW COLLEGE SHOULD BE!” parts. We all do it. You focus on the parties and the semester abroad and the time with your roommates or that time you got lost and found that great restaurant. Then you somehow forget about that time you had to suffer through that horrible class and then that kid broke your heart and you had no idea what you wanted to do with your life or you were pledging and didn’t sleep and it was awful. The details are different for everyone, but the concept is the same.

That’s what makes memories so dangerous. You control the narrative and can blow details out of proportion. The past is better than it was, and the future and present are less bright than they should be. It’s great to remember fun and important times, but it’s crucial not to get too caught up in them. Appreciate the memories you’ve made throughout your life, but don’t let them take away from your current experiences and situations. Important moments in the past shouldn’t serve only as tools of comparison for the present. A great memory is fun and nice to relive, but it doesn’t have to mean that your current moments are any less fun or nice.

Which leads me to this quote (I love Pinterest when I need a little inspiration):

When you’re an adult, maintaining relationships is hard. Everyone is busy, so what little time you do have must be used wisely. As you get further and further from your high school and college years, it becomes more difficult to stay in touch with friends from these times. Everyone is busy trying to establish lives and careers in new cities, which takes up the little free time not already occupied by actually working these jobs. Because of this, you have to change your strategy. In high school and college it was fine to cast your net wide. You could maintain loose, casual friendships with lots and lots of people. In addition to these many casual friends, you also had close friendships with a handful of people. You had time for all that socializing. I mean let’s be honest, you could sacrifice that between-class nap to grab Starbucks with someone. High school was over at 2pm. You were made of time in your younger years.

Now things are different. You’re a real person and it’s time to take an analytical look at your friendships. You’re no longer made of time and you’re certainly not made of money. Because of this, it’s important to use your limited free hours to focus on friendships that are still developing and growing. Whether it’s a high school or college friend or a new person you’ve met through work, you have to consider the quality of the relationship. If it’s a friendship that makes you feel good, gives you perspective, and offers other positive things, keep it. If it’s a friendship that’s more about reliving old times, you don’t need to erase the person completely, just use more of your energy to focus on new and growing relationships.

How do you maintain friendships in post-college life? Do you find it’s harder to keep in touch with old friends as you get further from high school and college?

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Comments

  1. Maintaining friendships post college is, sadly, harder than I was expecting! I am a stubborn person and my problem is that once I feel like I have made a big effort and keep reaching out – when the other person doesn’t return the favor – I get fed up and stop completely. It’s hard to know if it’s worth swallowing my pride and making a dinner-date / catch-up session / phone-call happen when the friend isn’t being responsive, or if I really should just let it go and realize we’re drifting. LOVE both the quotes you included, so true!

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