We leave the airport and head straight for his hostel. Our hearts are about to
We got back from Thailand months ago. Some of the most memorable weeks of my life are just distant memories now. Little did I know that these would be some of the last for a while. This year, however, would teach me to find the value in what I have. The friendships I have are priceless, and I’m richer because of them.
Many people have been on similar nostalgia kicks. “When people feel socially isolated or bored, they feel nostalgic,” Kaitlyn Tiffany writes in The Atlantic. Theodora Blanchfield, a fitness writer from Los Angeles, has been streaming a ton of old Disney movies “because it reminds me of the simple joy I felt as a kid.” Justin Lamar Nix, a toy store owner in New Orleans, Lousiana, has turned to reruns of ’90s game shows. “Those old Supermarket Sweep [episodes] instantly swept me into a ‘home sick from school’ vibe I didn’t realize I could still access,” he says.
On occasion, I see someone I know at the grocery store, or I have a quick chat with some I used to talk to more often before the pandemic. “Time is fake,” I tell them. Memories we think happened the other day actually occurred five months ago.
We put too much value on items that depreciate over time anyway. Yeah it’s pretty sweet pulling up to the function in a Benz, but whose function are you going to right now anyway? Nothing is going on, and even if there is, what are you doing going there? Go back home. Just play Call of Duty with the boys.
The currency our close friends provide is enough to sustain us. Mentally, they are the foundation of who we are. The things we own are meaningless when it comes to our relationships. The things we own don’t add intrinsic value to our lives, and they often burden us or weigh us down.
It’s March, 2020. I’m at work, scrambling with the task of adjusting our business schedule. The Covid-19 virus has just been nationally recognized in the United States, and everything is shutting down. I’m spending the better part of my days cancelling or rescheduling client appointments, and I’m battling a sickness myself.
I started rifling through old yearbooks, scheduling zoom dates with high school friends, and wearing once-fashionable (I swear) velvet chokers. Mainlining nostalgia helped me feel normal again. It comforted me.
This type of nostalgia was labeled “restorative” by Svetlana Boym, Curt Hugo Reisinger professor of Slavic and comparative literature at Harvard University and author of The Future of Nostalgia. Someone who’s experiencing restorative nostalgia “looks back on a pleasurable experience from the past with a sense of longing — a desire to recreate, or ‘restore’ the past experience in the present,” says Hal McDonald, a professor of linguistics at Mars Hill University who’s written comprehensively on the subject.
In small doses, sure, nostalgia is a useful coping mechanism. “It can have a stabilizing effect, reminding us that we possess a store of memories that are unique to us and help us develop our own unique identities,” says Greta Hirsch, PhD, clinical director at the Ross Center in New York City. According to new scientific analysis, nostalgia also helps us fight off loneliness, which has been on the rise during the pandemic.
It’s actually quite common to embrace the past when faced with stress and trauma. Studies have shown that in times of uncertainty, we reach for comforting sensations from the past. Nostalgia soothes because it evokes simpler and safer times. But if we’re to emerge from this time with our emotional health intact, we’re going to have to start looking to the future, not the past. Here’s why.
I’m stressed, but the currency I’ve stockpiled in relationships is racking up interest. I was rich already, and I didn’t know it. When those few moments of depression started to seep in, my friends arrived to quell those feelings. Together, we adapted to this new way of life. We went on more hikes, set up Zoom meetings, and started playing way more video games.
There is a bump in the road. It’s still there, and it isn’t going to be flattened for some time. Our goals are a little further out of reach now. Luckily, life isn’t about the end of the journey, but the moments in between. When the money isn’t there, we adapt. We already have a currency that does not deplete, but builds us.
We tend to have tunnel vision when we feel this type of pressure. We make one or two things the most important things in our lives and neglect the others. For me, an obvious thing I’m worried about is money. Like I said earlier, with all this extra time I have, I figure I better focus on something that’ll increase my networth.
He walks into frame. I’ve never seen someone look so clueless. I could hear the cogs in his brain firing up, trying to calculate what was going on. We pounce on him, laughing together in pure joy. After more than a year, my best friends and I were finally together. We had an entire adventure ahead of us, and we were ready to make new memories.
Money gets us things and it’s that simple. Yes it pays the bills, but extra money lets us purchase items to distract us from the time we have when we aren’t working. Stress builds inside us when we don’t make as much money as we want, or even as much as we are used to.
Holy cow I’m happy I didn’t buy a car this year. I was considering purchasing one right before the first wave, but I dodged a bullet. I work from home and hardly leave the house in general. What do I need a new car for? I already have one that functions fine.
It’s astonishing just how fast time passes by. I swear the older I get the faster time moves. Tell me it doesn’t, and I wont believe you. Time pressure is real, and it’s psychological stress that occurs when we feel like there is less time available than we need to complete our goals.
I initially jumped on Medium in another attempt to find a stream of income. I read those articles about people making thousands of dollars on the platform, and I thought I’d give it a try. It didn’t take me long to realize that, as a beginner, I’d be lucky to scrape $10 off the wall.
If there is anything to take away from these shutdowns, it’s that we can still be happy with less. I’m not saying you should be a minimalist, but you can get by with a good book and a new recipe to cook. You can make it through a whole day with a few walks outside and a new Netflix series. Your friends don’t care about the things you own. They just want to spend time with you, whether it’s in person (socially distanced or course) or virtually.
“It can counteract the meaninglessness in an individual’s life when they are bored or lonely,” Hirsch says. Psychological studies suggest nostalgia may even act as an emotional safeguard against anxiety about existential threats, in part because it helps people connect their past and present selves, thus shaping one’s life into a coherent, meaningful narrative.
It’s frustrating, but it’s taught me the importance of slowing down. For as much pressure as I’m putting on myself to build a newsletter empire and diversify my streams of income, this year has also taught me that life is about much more than money.
This is exactly why overindulgence in nostalgia is a slippery slope. “If we indulge for too long, then our thoughts begin to reinforce the lack of the idea; not of the good time we had or the person, but more of the missing, the absence of the person or situation. That awareness of what we no longer have interferes with enjoying the present,” says Raquel Libbin, PhD, a psychologist of 30 years and former member of the board of directors of the Florida Psychological Association.
I’ve thought more about money over the past few months than I ever have. I’m sure many of us are in the same boat. Some of us aren’t working, so we have more time to think about the things that we don’t have. My singular goal, as of late, has been to figure out how to take advantage of the current situation and make more money. Is that a problem? Is that selfish?