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Anna Schultz-Girl Sitting On Bed Facing Wall
Anna Schultz-Girl Sitting On Bed Facing Wall
Anna Schultz / Her Campus
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

It’s that time of the year again the lukewarm nostalgia in everyone’s cups, the past coming back in waves as summer settles into early August. Something’s in the air; my friends can’t stop thinking about their childhood and I keep seeing my ex-boyfriend’s name everywhere. The other day I walked into a classroom that smelled exactly like my grandmother’s porch when I was 11. So what does it all mean? And is there anything to be gained from the memories, or should we all be shelving our past and trudging forward?

I think memories are like a coat. An old one, sure— maybe pinched, maybe too long on the elbows and missing a few buttons, but still undeniably warm. I’ve spent years trying to ignore the past, pretending I don’t carry it inside with me, everything I felt and will feel, everyone I’ve loved and will love. In a sense, maybe remembering is the closest thing to immortality. Maybe death isn’t dying. Maybe it’s forgetting the way to the house you grew up in.

This melancholy feels special to me sometimes, like I’m the only one who can’t stop thinking about the past. But when I look around, I see everyone else looking backwards, too. I called my mother the other night, and in between the bits of conversation, her own quiet nostalgia crept out. “I’ll turn 50 this year, Farah”, she told me, her voice breathless. “I swear to you, I was 17 yesterday. It all flew by. It all flies by.” The night became a mausoleum for her memories. I listened to the gentle sound of her voice through the speakerphone, pulling stories from her youth like daisies from the ground, holding them up to the light: her own teenage years, the quiet ache she felt, that I feel.

It’s the quiet ache all teenage girls have felt and will feel— the ache to escape, to be loved, to metamorphose into something bigger than what we were. A part of me feels as attached as I am to the past, though I keep trying to outdo it, prove to an audience that isn’t watching that where I’ve come from and what I’ve done means nothing in comparison to where I’m going and what I’ll do. How can you both simultaneously miss the past for what it was, but hope you never go back to the way it used to be? Can both things be true?

For me, the answer is yes. Despite the discomfort of memory or the vertigo I get when I remember I’m closer to 25 than I am to 14, I wouldn’t trade the depth of my memories for anything or anybody. It’s hard to find the balance between reminiscing and drowning in what was, but I’ve found that giving space for your past to exist, to feel it and honor it, is the best way to navigate through it. There is something so profoundly human about remembering so much it hurts, that the nostalgia we feel can make us physically dizzy. It’s an echo of who you were, reaching out through all those years, asking you to remember. What else can you do but oblige?

Anyway, I’ll take the random recollection of an ex I haven’t thought about in years. I’ll take the sliver of sadness when I realize I’ll never sit at the far right-side table with all my high school girlfriends again. I’ll take the quiet pang in my chest when I come home from college and my mom looks older, the louder pang when she thinks the same of me. No more flinching. Look at where you came from. Look at how far you’ve gotten. Maybe nostalgia is a small reminder to look back with fresh eyes. You might find something you didn’t see before something worth the pain of remembering.

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Farah Shah is a current Staff Writer for the UCF Chapter of Her Campus and a junior at the University of Central Florida. As a Political Science major with a minor in Terrorism Studies and Journalism Studies, Farah spends most of her time writing up on events, current and past. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, spending time outside soaking up the sun, or making a mess in the kitchen. Farah hopes to pursue a career in investigative journalism in an international context, with specific regards to human rights and civilian safety in areas undergoing violence and/or war.