A recent, subtle trend has been being present in the moment. With the ever-growing presence of technology, it has become easier to not fully be there. Our minds are constantly preoccupied, and we lack the ability to fully appreciate the moment we are in. We are either preparing for the future or longing for the past.
I don’t think this is necessarily an issue of being present in the moment, but not being nostalgic for the past. We are told so often to embrace the moment that we feel the need to preserve the moment to continue being appreciated for times longer than the actual moment itself. If that doesn’t make sense to you, let me break it down with a common example as of late.
Concerts are a pretty big event. A person might spend upward of $100 for concert ticket to see their favorite artist perform live. This is an investment in their personal life. This could be life-changing. They promise themselves they will enjoy every moment and sing along to every song while basking in the concert atmosphere.
The concert comes along, and they spend most of the time photographing or recording the entire event. They may claim they want to remember the concert forever. Possibly, they might want to show off to their friends how awesome the concert is. But are they really embracing the moment if they are so worried about not fully appreciating the concert in the future?
It’s not anyone’s fault that these tendencies exist. This is the result of our society and culture that encourages nostalgia regularly. Life was always better in the past.
I see this a lot in young adults. Some long for their childhood days where they were naive and lacked responsibility. Others long for their high school days…where they peaked. Others long for that one summer that was great. However, I argue that who you are today is a result of who you were then and the experiences you endured. Even if your nostalgic dreams were to come true, they would never be the same because you are a different person.
Last summer, I studied abroad, which was why I began writing again and began this blog. The semester prior, I was struggling immensely. My mental health and eating disorder were recurring obstacles, and I lacked motivation. My future seemed so undefined and uncertain, that I either longed for a previous time of security, or that I longed for a new time with allowed exploration and adventure.
My time studying abroad was exactly that. It’s easy for me to look back and long for the good memories, especially as I am reminded daily on TimeHop of all the great views and great times. However, at surface level, I only remember the good times. I block out the bad times, which make the nostalgia even greater.
While I was abroad, my eating disorder was still a daily if not hourly obstacle. Money was extremely tight, and I felt so pressured to stay in and save money while all of my privileged friends blew money without a care. I had a boyfriend back home that stressed me out about maintaining communication. I was homesick, and while I loved Rome, I did not love living there.
It wasn’t the best experience, but I find myself looking back lovingly. Still, I never wish I was there again. I see others studying abroad and I don’t envy them, but I appreciate that they are enduring similar experiences and learning similar lessons. I learned a lot about saving money. I learned a lot about what I actually enjoyed doing in my free time. I learned about being low-maintenance. I learned about other cultures. I learned about people. I learned about me.
This study abroad experience made me realize how much I love to travel. I don’t really like vacationing or relaxing, but I love traveling. This ignited a passion in me to pursue travel in future pursuits. More than anything, it broke my three-year long writer’s block. It gave me back my voice.
A year later, I may not be a totally different person, but I have changed significantly. I wouldn’t do it again, but I am now excited to study abroad again this winter in a new hemisphere. I may never have the same experiences again, but I know that if I continue to have new experiences, I will continue to grow and be happy. I strive to do something new each day, go somewhere new each month (even if it’s a new neighborhood or restaurant), and visit a new country each year.
An object at rest remains at rest unless an outside force acts upon it. An object in motion remains in motion unless an outside force acts upon it. Inertia. Maintain that momentum, and you’ll never long for the past.