There are days when it seems like your phone won’t stop beeping to remind you about the overdue bills. Meanwhile your desk is overflowing with post-its of tasks that need to get down. You can’t even take a breather because you’re swamped. It’s in those moments when you think, “If only I could go back to the good days.” You then walk into daydream about years past. Your mind retraces its step to when all you worried about was your parents finding out about the stuff that got you in trouble.
You go out with your friends, but you keep wondering if you’ll ever be as happy as you once were. You present a façade of conformity to the world; however, it slips out when you least expect. There is a part of you that is holding back. The deepest part of you is hoping you’ll get a second chance to be the person you used to be.
It’s only human to long for the past. Our nostalgia for moments we remember as bright and carefree creates the story of our lives. We either forget the bad or the good, by designing a narrative of what has made us who we are. Yet it is that selective memory that haunts us. Because when we idealize or demonize, we stop seeing the forest for the trees. When we isolate our highest or lowest points, we fail to enjoy our everyday. We disregard what could be a new hallmark in our story. You might think that this does not apply to you. Yet there are a few clues that hint that you are reliving your past merits rather than focusing on creating new memories and relationships.
There’s a moment in your life you feel was your happiest.
We all have our favorite memory. It can be the day you felt like a hero because you scored the winning shot, or when someone told you they loved you. It’s easy to think that it will never happen again, that nobody will ever recognize and appreciate who you are like they once did. But to think like that is to not have enough confidence in yourself and your talents. Trust your choices and love the person you are today. There might not be any trophies involved, but knowing you have given your all and continuing to strive each day is what matters. Stop looking for other people’s appreciation or praise and start knowing your own worth.
You keep thinking that something went wrong along the way.
Perhaps you used to think your life would turn out a certain way. But then, you didn’t get the scholarship, things didn’t work out with your sweetheart, or an economic crisis got you sacked from your dream job. Life is made out of countless possibilities. Each one can affect other aspects of your life. But it doesn’t mean that something went wrong. There’s a chance that, even having all the stuff you figure you were supposed to get, you would’ve ended up in the same spot as you are now. Nothing is ever certain, so stop harking to the golden days and start planning to get to where you truly want to be.
You never get close to others or allow anyone to get close to you.
We’ve all been seventeen and head over heels in love in one way or another. Every feeling, sensation, declaration, and encounter was magical. But eventually, it all fades. You either break up with that person, or you stay with them until the love and romance becomes an everyday routine. I hate to break it to you, but all those exciting moments were probably heightened by your hormones. They’re nice memories, but nobody could keep it up forever. Love changes. The way we connect with others grows as we grow. There’s nothing sad about it. Couples have ups and downs throughout their entire relationship. It makes them stronger and even helps them appreciate each other more. However, if you keep holding off your heart to when that person comes back into your life or when you meet someone like your old flame, you might be sitting there for a while. Learn to love the person you’ve become and accept that others love who you’ve grown into rather than who you used to be.
You wish you could go back to that moment.
This one is a funny situation. Because when we’ve idealized a part of our past too much, even if we had a time machine to go back to that exact instant, we wouldn’t be satisfied. When all you remember about your birthday cake is the fluffy white frosting, while conveniently forgetting how you got an allergic reaction to the almond filling, you’ve created an alternative memory. You’ve selected the parts you liked while disregarding the less memorable aspects. There’s no shame in it. We all do it. But life continues and you can’t stay stuck thinking that the present sucks and the past was your best moment. If you do that, then you’ll get stuck. You won’t enjoy what is actually in front of you. You’ll risk missing on taking chances that could lead to incredible opportunities. And if that happens, then there will come a time in the future that you will regret.
We all like to daydream of a life devoid of responsibilities. It’s a nice break from the stress of the everyday. But we can’t live there because it’s not real. The person you were before is not who you are now. You had a seemingly carefree life because you were probably still young and supported by someone else. But now you have other freedoms and other chances. Don’t throw it all away on a pipe dream for something you can’t change or return to. Learn to love who you are today and stop spending your time longing for something that’s long gone.
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