Nostalgia Is NOT Always a Waste of Time

Ever think back to the days of your youth? I do…a lot. That’s because I still live in the area where I grew up. It’s also because I have a lot of regrets. The biggest ones have to do with times when I didn’t have the courage to do things I wanted to do more than anything, like stand up to a bully or ask out the girl that I REALLY wanted to take to my senior prom. (If only I could find a picture of THAT Brazilian beauty!) Some people think reminiscing is a waste of time, but I think there are times when it’s actually useful.

Sometimes I look back in an attempt to see where my life went off the rails. (Well, as far as careers go anyway.) How did I wind up in so many dead end, low-income jobs? I can easily see one mistake that I made: focusing too much on my creative writing. I’m not saying I regret having that as a passion, but I wish I’d pay more attention in the classes that could have landed me a decent-paying job. Writing can pay well, but only after years and years of slogging away for pennies. I got four kids to support NOW. No room to goof off.

Okay, so there is my answer. Writing more than I studied is why I am in this spot. That is why I have to work so much overtime that I practically live at the office. So what can I do about it now, other than complain?

In this case, it turns out I can do quite a bit! My approach to school was where I screwed up. Therefore the obvious solution is to go back to school, FOCUS, and get myself a better job. But this yields another question: go back for what? Well, I have always regretted the fact that I lost my grip on the Chinese language, so I could go back for that…and either this fall or the next, I will be doing just that.

In this instance, my nostalgia resulted in some digging that led to a solution. It’s not always like that. Sometimes there is no good that can come from dwelling on the past. My prom date fail is a prime example of that. I wanted to ask out this Brazilian exchange student, but back then I was afraid of rejection. Instead, I asked out a girl that I knew would say yes, even though I wasn’t attracted to her in the least.

So what good can come of THIS stroll down memory lane? None. That ship has sailed. It’s a waste to dwell on it.

Or is it?

Think about this: the reason I failed to achieve what I wanted was cowardice, stemming from an overwhelming lack of self-confidence. So the question became: how do I fix that? Once again, by dwelling on it I got my answer. (Well, partially anyway.)

For the record, all my years of consciously searching for ways to improve my self-confidence yielded no results. It wasn’t until I got into home fitness programs that I stumbled upon my answer: getting into better PHYSICAL shape meant getting into better MENTAL shape.

More often than not, nostalgia/dwelling on the past can be a waste of time. (EXAMPLE: You had great chemistry with that one classmate in high school, but you never asked her out. Well, that was twenty years ago. Thinking about it now will do no good.) However, in these examples here I’ve found a way to put those memories to good use, and it makes sense. I mean, who wants to repeat the same mistakes over and over?

So what I’m saying is: don’t just dwell on and mope about the past. Use it as an inspiration to make your present better. After all, the past is gone…the future isn’t here yet…and to quote the flaming Lips, “All we have is now.”


About Steve Grogan

I am 40 years old, divorced, and a father of four kids. I am a practitioner of a self-defense system called wing chun kung fu. My other hobbies include writing, playing guitar, reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Recently I have gotten back into fitness, and this time I am DETERMINED to get the washboard abs...whether my metabolism will cooperate with me or not! The purpose of this blog is to write not only about my hobbies, but also about whatever crosses my mind, whether it is something I don't understand or something that aggravates me. So join me as I indulge my tendency to think too much about topics that don't usually cross anyone else's mind!
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