Nostalgia Therapy
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Nostalgia Therapy

Sometimes looking back helps you look forward

Nostalgia Therapy
Dallas Symphony Orchestra Facebook

Recently, I went to a concert for a youth orchestra in my hometown. It was a lovely concert, the soloists killed it, and I got to talk to friends and high school teachers I hadn't seen in years. I also got a strong dose of nostalgia. It was a concert hall I had been in many times on both sides of the stage, and the familiar rhythm and ritual of a symphony concert gave me a blast from the past that was almost overwhelming. (I almost cried during the tuning note, guys.)

Music was the backdrop of my high school life. My social group was 95% band kids; rehearsals, events, and practices took up about 70% of my waking time; and, soon after I got my license, I bumped into someone’s car while in the band parking lot. (No damage, but I parked veryyyy far from other cars after that…)

I owe a lot of who I am to music. The regimented, militaristic organization of a marching band gave me discipline, and countless hours of practice taught me persistence. Music performances and auditions trained me to be more comfortable in a spotlight and in high-pressure settings. Through this and leadership roles, I morphed from being a mousy wallflower to being more confident and comfortable in my skin. My first long term relationship, and the quirky pack of drumline guys I hung out with (as well as all my weird, witty, wonderful friends) largely contributed to my punny, sarcastic, Spongebob-quoting sense of humor.

Looking back, it seems crazy to me that I almost chose music school. And strange to remember that what was once practically my whole life is now past.

I wonder whether some people reading this and knowing me now might be surprised at any of those things. I imagine them saying “Lol, what confidence,” or “Really? Look at how many microwave pizzas and cups of ice cream you eat during finals week. Comfort in high-pressure settings, huh?”

In some ways, college hasn’t changed me for the better. And as these things usually go, this idea has dumped itself on me recently. Sometimes the whirlwind of life pushes you to a point where you become fixated on only the recent past and the near future. In the face of challenges, this fixation makes it feel like this is just how things are, and how they’ve always been, and how they always will be. Not only how things always will be, but how you always will be. (That’s right, it just got personal) And it can leave you wondering, “How did I get like this?” “How am I going to handle the rest of life when getting through days and weeks can be a challenge?”

But being reminded of who I was, where I came from, gives me a bigger picture. This concert was a refreshing nostalgia therapy for me. A reminder from the more distant past (by that I mean 3-5 years, sorry I’m only in my 20s and like to exaggerate) reminding me that life is bigger than a couple terms, and bigger than this whole college career itself.

Music has always been my way of rooting myself and expressing myself, since I usually just like to wave my freak flag and keep my feeling flag to myself. Music was my first love (shout out to everyone who’s ever called their instrument their “baby”). I suppose it’s a lesson in letting things change and still honoring their part in your life. Even if I started playing again, it wouldn’t ever be the same force in my life as it was before. But college life can feel like trying to juggle flamethrowers while reciting poetry all at 5am pulling an all-nighter for a paper. (Of course I haven’t actually done that, I can’t pull all-nighters duh.) In the face of that, it’s comforting to know that I’ll always feel at home in a symphony hall, and that I’ll always have this to draw upon. (Sometimes, even chocolate’s magic powers can’t compare to a little Rimsky-Korsakov.) In the face of uncertainty, of questioning where I’m at and who I am (not having a mid-life crisis, I promise), it brought me a little hope to be able to think, “I wasn’t always like this,” in ways that remind me I can still grow, and equally important, in ways that remind me how much I’ve grown already.

I’m notoriously pessimistic, but a thought came to me while I was sitting in the concert hall that I hope I’ll keep believing: Even though you may feel as heavy as a rock right now, you’re not set in stone. (Except for my bad puns. Those are forever.)

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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