Nostalgia makes things better than they actually are
By CHRISTINA QUACH
“Hindsight is 20-20,” is a phrase people hear often.
But hindsight only seems to give people rose-tinted glasses. It morphs certain memories and exaggerates them, because of the significant attachment people have with those events.
As people get older, they oftentimes find their younger selves more memorable and would rather go back to the past than live in the present. However, they do not realize that if they traveled back to a fond memory with the newfound knowledge they have currently, chances are, the events people hold dearest to our hearts are honestly not that special.
The reason why people put their childhood memories on a pedestal is because they miss the innocence and naivety they possessed as a child. The younger people are, the easier it is to amaze them. As people grow older, they grow more pessimistic, making them eager to regain the good feelings of their childhood.
However, it is not only longing for their past innocence that makes memories so special. They get more deadlines, more assignments and more stress. People want to travel back to the times where they were carefree, where the end of the world was when they could not go to recess instead of applying for college.
Although people gain more insight as they get older, when they look back at their childhood, they do not notice the things they would have if they had the mindset they have now. Instead, they imagine their mind in that moment, where it is oblivious to the perceived “evils” that they are better equipped to recognize as they mature.
This is due to the fact that emotions from childhood are more powerful than those people experience now; they are more vivid in people’s mind. As people get older, their cognitive functions decline. Also, because children do not know how to properly deal with emotions, things feel more impactful. If a person had a fantastical time at an amusement park as a child, they most likely memorize their excitement and can mirror it in hindsight.
This does not mean that nostalgia always makes things better. Many experiences people have just resonate more powerfully within them. For instance, a memory someone has about passing a test is not as memorable and impactful as getting their first job.
Despite people maturing as they get older, it does not hurt to remember the times where things were less stressful. The times where they felt at the top of the world and the times when they hit rock bottom, because all experiences eventually shape us into who we are and who we will be in the future.