Nostalgia and moving forward

Kelly Smith

Can you think of a time in your life that you were fond of? Think of a time in your past when you felt happy or joyful, whether it’s recent or many years ago when you were younger. It doesn’t have to be anything major but simply a time when you felt happy to be alive. 

How often do you think back to those times? Do you ever find yourself longing for those memories to become a reality again? I’m sure we all have something from our past that we miss, and that’s normal. Nostalgia is completely natural when life becomes a bit dull. However, I find that spending too much time thinking about the past prevents us from moving into the future.

When I first began my career at Grand Valley State University, I joined the marching band with relatively high anxiety levels. Everything was so new to me because I had never actually marched before due to being in the front ensemble in high school. I was nervous and made several notable mistakes that first year both on and off the field. But despite that, I grew close to the people I was marching with.

Naturally, we would lose more and more of those people to graduation as the following years passed. Now, as a fifth-year member of the Laker Marching Band, I am the only remaining member of my section from my first year. Although every year has had its fun moments, there is that feeling of loneliness whenever I think back to that nostalgic first year of marching.

We’ve all heard how we should keep moving forward in life, but I find it amazing how easy it is to allow ourselves to still look back more often than we should. Life can get a bit boring sometimes when we start doing the same things every day and every week. I can only imagine what the world outside of college is like. When things become too familiar, the excitement of doing something new fades away because it’s not new anymore. When this happens, it’s normal to think back fondly to times when things were new and exciting and to want that enthusiasm back. However, there is a fine line between that and trying to live in the past.

It’s been said that it’s all about the journey and not the destination. Personally, I only partially agree with this philosophy because you still need to be moving forward on the road to your destination in order to truly benefit from the journey. When you lose sight of the destination, your journey becomes pointless, and one of the biggest ways to lose sight of your destination is to be always looking back at what’s passed. I may be nostalgic about my first year of marching, but it’s gone, and me missing it won’t bring it back.

When life becomes familiar and dull, there’s nothing wrong with thinking back to joyful and exciting times for motivation, but success comes from keeping our eyes on the prize, and that prize lies ahead, not behind.