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The Pain of Nostalgia, and How To Get Through It

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I’m an incredibly nostalgic person. I start mourning good moments as I’m in the middle of living them, so needless to say, I have a lot of experience with nostalgia. Nostalgia is often something that is glamorized in tv shows and movies, as it’s represented by filtered flashbacks and paired with sappy music designed to make you reminisce on your own life. The reality of nostalgia, though, is that it’s a lot more grieving than it is a fun little trip down memory lane, whether you’re looking back on friendships, fun moments, relationships, or tough moments.

I think the worst part of nostalgia is remembering the best moments and knowing it’s impossible to experience them again. Every time I remember my favorite high school moments, like state theater competitions, prom, or even the more minor days, like senior lunches, I’m reminded that no matter what, I can never experience those days again. They’re lost forever, and my only hope of living those moments again is to reminisce. Now, a lot of people respond to this with “But you have so many other memories yet to be made!”, and obviously that’s true. I’m 21 years old, with so much more ahead of me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t miss the past, when life was so much simpler and seeing your friends was as easy as “Let’s meet up between first and second period,” instead of “Are you free in the next two weeks?”

That’s not to mention the strain growing up places on friendships. As we mature and other things begin to take more importance in our life, it’s almost impossible to not lose friends. Suddenly, those differences in political views, morals, religion, and spirituality are not as small anymore. You start to get a true sense of the people you’ve surrounded yourself with for four years, and you begin to find people who align more with what’s important to you. Before you know it, your college friends have become much more prominent in your life, and you have only a handful of high school friends whom you talk to daily. High school becomes more and more of a distant memory, but it’s easy to start missing the music that made up your senior year soundtrack and the trends that ruled the hallways every once in a while.

My nostalgia isn’t limited to high school, as I’ve started missing moments from freshman year already. All are memories I’ll never get to relive, from late-night walks around campus to the newfound freedom I felt the first day after my parents dropped me off in my dorm room. It’s hard not to remember all of the people you meet within those first few months of being a college student and think about how they are doing now. Sure, some become mainstays in your life (shout out to one of my current roommates whom I met in October of freshman year), but others you’ll watch from a distance.

Whenever you tell an adult that you are in college, it’s pretty common to hear, “Enjoy this time while it lasts!” It makes sense. After this phase of our lives, everyone starts to go their separate ways, whether to graduate school, get a full-time job, or travel the world. College is our last chance to live freely without having to be “adults.” But no one ever talks about how hard it is watching these fleeting moments go away as you live them. So here’s my tip to you: memorialize the moments as best as you can. Take a couple of pictures even if you think you don’t look your best, write in a journal for a bit after an especially fun (or emotional) night and make a Spotify playlist that’ll capture your emotions and transport you back in time. If there’s anything I’ve learned, you can’t go back to those moments, but you can go back to what you felt in your heart, and sometimes that’s even better.

Naziah Roberts is a junior at UCF majoring in Clinical Psychology and minoring in Human Services and Social Inequality and Diversity. You can often find her trying out a new dessert recipe, making a new Spotify playlist, or reading about astrology when she isn't busy learning about the inner workings of the human mind! She is pursuing a career as a Clinical Psychologist for underprivileged youth.
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