What Can We Learn From Growing Up?

            I have always been fascinated by the way certain smells, tastes, and sounds can transport me in time. The smell of Aqua Net hairspray takes me back to my spring dance recital in kindergarten. I can imagine myself standing in the wings of the stage, adorned with tulle and sequins, feeling clammy with perspiration and grinning with enthusiasm as I anticipate my performance. The taste of my grandma’s signature chicken and rice casserole sends me back to Christmas Eve dinners in elementary school. My legs would swing in the tall dining room chair, barely able to touch the ground. And the sound of Lorde’s Pure Heroine album transports me to pre-teen days. Suddenly, I’m an angsty middle schooler obsessed with YouTube and clumsy winged liquid liner.

            Flash forward to today, and my life is a series of prospective goals and objectives I am constantly trying to achieve. I’ve gotten into my dream college, but now I have to try to get into my dream major. Once I earn a spot in my major, I must work towards my dream job, and then my dream home, and it goes on and on. We put so much effort towards propelling forward, charging ahead, and moving on to the next best thing. All of these efforts can feel overwhelming and all-encompassing. So much attention is spent on moving forward, but what if we chose to spend an equal amount of time on reflection and recollection?

            Don’t live in the past is a mantra that circulates everywhere. And there is certainly unequivocal importance in pressing forward in our lives; but, there is also plenty we can learn from looking at the happiness and sadness, the triumphs and downfalls, the whirlwind of events and emotions that have occurred in our pasts.

           Smelling the pungent, floral scent of Aqua Net hairspray fills my stomach with exhilarating butterflies, as I’m reminded of the scary and exciting thrill that comes with performing on stage. I am reminded of the fear I have of messing up, but excitement I feel when trying to succeed. Tasting my grandma’s chicken and rice casserole reminds me of how grateful I are for the unconditional love I feel for and from my family. It’s easy to lose sight of this support in my life when I am wrapped up with life stressors. And listening to Lorde sing about the artificiality of social expectations in Pure Heroine, my favorite album in middle school, reminds me of how much my view of the world has changed since I’ve grown. It causes me to laugh about all the dissatisfaction I once felt towards my life, not knowing that I had bigger obstacles to face ahead.

          Reflecting on your past and remembering your childhood can fill you with an abundance of emotions, but most of all it can offer perspective. Whatever circumstance each of us are in now, big or small, is fleeting and temporary. Situations that feel big and scary in this moment may feel miniscule years from now. Take a moment to look back on your achievements and your failures and celebrate all that you’ve conquered and recognize all that you are grateful for.