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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

If there is one feeling that has given me the greatest emotional experience, it would have to be nostalgia. The feeling of nostalgia has the immense power of evoking emotions ranging from comfort and happiness to longing and emptiness. My relationship with nostalgia is a constant tug of war, a continuous balancing act between the warmth of reliving cherished memories and the dangers of dwelling in the past.

Over the past few years, I ultimately deemed nostalgia as a gut-wrenching cycle of grief that repeatedly comes back to haunt you. Whether it’s looking at photo albums from my childhood, listening to songs I adored in high school, or reminiscing on personal experiences from the past couple of years, the simple fact of never being able to physically relive those moments causes my heart to sink into my stomach. The realization of time passing by in the blink of an eye ultimately makes this feeling even more painful, as each moment starts to become more and more of a distant memory that is slowly fading away. On top of this gradual fading of memories, I am reminded of how I may have taken those precious times for granted, leaving me to dig for the few photos and videos I have stored to refresh my mind. Additionally, nostalgia’s deceptive nature makes it all the more irritating, as it blurs the line between reality and an idealized past. When reminiscing over multiple periods, my mind glosses over the imperfections and troubles that came along with it. It views the past as a “picture perfect” world, one that blocks out all the flaws and challenges and creates a distorted image that steers away from the less pleasant truths. 

By creating a nostalgic lens that blurs the reality of the past, it can tend to become a comfort blanket for me to rely on. Whenever I would feel upset at the present, I looked back to times when I felt happier and more content to support me. This continuous cycle led me to feel stuck in a perpetual loop, as I was convinced that the past would always be greater than the future. Not only would this prevent me from living in the present, but it hindered my personal growth and development. By continuously looking back, I was limiting myself to new experiences and not allowing myself to embrace what was ahead of me.

Throughout all the negatives, this past year has taught me how beautiful of a feeling nostalgia is. Sure, it has its downsides from time to time, but it truly is a privilege to yearn for memories. Whether I am reminiscing about something from a couple of years ago to something from two months ago, I realize how blessed I am to be able to look back at times from the past with such fondness and love. With this year bringing me an abundance of blessings, I have started to become nostalgic about the present, knowing that in the near future, I will look back at my current moments with a large smile on my face. Nostalgia is not just a feeling of wistful longing—it is a celebration of knowing that you have found beauty in the stories that are engraved in your mind. I have learned to appreciate the times behind me without becoming trapped in them, as they now bring me excitement and anticipation for the future memories that are yet to come.

Ultimately, even though I’ve grown to see nostalgia in a new light, it will always remain a bittersweet and complex emotion for me. Both the negative and positive aspects of nostalgia have left their mark on my life, creating a love-hate relationship that remains an evolving narrative. As the years pass, I hope to continue seeing the beauty of nostalgia, letting the echoes of the past guide me through new beginnings.

Noor is a 3rd year student at UC Davis majoring in Communication with a minor in Accounting. She enjoys watching movies, going on walks, and spending time with her friends. She is excited to be apart of the HerCampus team and looks forward to incorporating her interests and experiences into her articles.