A Reflection on Nostalgia

By Randy Chang

A concept that I’ve always found fascinating is nostalgia.  Like many human functions, it’s quite peculiar. For no other virtue than just being a past experience, humans harken back and yearn for it: whether it be an experience, time period, person, item, outdated wardrobe, the list goes on. I’ll let my editor find an outdated fashion trend as the cover photo.

(The editor took the liberty of making a collage of several ‘outdated’ trends)

Most of us picture negative nostalgia: an ex popping back into our heads, a bad grade, a cringeworthy moment, like when you put an anime theme song in your design project (speaking for a friend). Nostalgia uses the sands of time to soften the blows, round the edges on these sharp memories. The colloquialism of “rose tinted glasses” seems appropriate: remembering the happy, good times in a memory that isn’t normally happy. 

Yet what’s more interesting is positive nostalgia: listening to an old song you forgot about, remembering times long past before getting on with your day as swiftly as the memory had struck you. It’s definitely hard to intentionally create this kind of nostalgia–emotions and intuitions are uncontrollable, rebellious features of our brains. It requires satisfaction with our current situation, to avoid the craving of more comfortable times. 

The next time you get that wave of nostalgia, make sure you remember things have probably improved, somehow. If not your mood or stage in life, then the relationships you’ve cultivated, or just the fact you survived another year in life. Turn that negative into a positive–we’re all proud of you here at TBAW.