Art by Peau Porotesano
We remember the good stuff. But to be fair, why wouldn’t we? It’s far easier to look back on a situation, relationship or event and remember the positive elements over the negative. Unless something quite traumatic has happened, its incredibly easy to gloss over the less favorable days.
In my developmental psychology class last semester, we learned about something called the Socio-Emotional Selectivity Theory. This theory essentially states that as we age, we tend to focus on positive thoughts and memories as we realize the limited amount of time that we have on earth. Rather than dwelling on the bad memories and relationships we have accumulated, we focus on the moments that made us feel fulfilled and loved.
As students prone to dealing with fairly drastic changes from year-to-year, it’s easy to look back on the “good times” of freshman year or a year abroad, without remembering the bad ones. Reminiscing can always be fun, but it can also be unecessarily detrimental.
I was talking with my roommate recently about our travel abroad experiences. We have both found that when we gather with people from our individual groups, we find ourselves remembering the great times and the hilarious mishaps to the point of wishing we were back abroad. If we don’t ever remember the tough conversations and self-realizations that weren’t always so pleasant, it is easy to find ourselves stuck in the past, wishing for those days back. What we must remember is that we can never get those exact days and feelings back.
This is not to say, however, that we should dwell on the bad, or not give second chances. It is just important to remember that it will never be exactly the same as before. That being said, appreciate the gifts that you have now. Certainly, remember the events and relationships that shaped you. Even go back and travel to the same places, and reconnect with the same people, but just know that it will never be the same.
I believe in new beginnings with people, and even new experiences in old places, but it’s also important to remember the full story. There will be positive memories in many relationships and experiences, and if you decide to revisit them don’t be blinded by a false hope that things will be exactly as you left them.
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