You know, at the end of The Office, Darryl was talking about how he hated working at Dunder Mifflin. He wanted to leave every minute of it, yet at the end of the series, these supposedly negative memories turned into the sentiment of nostalgia.
He goes, “Every day when I came into work, all I wanted to do was leave. So why in the world does it feel so hard to leave right now?”
Sometimes, I have a similar feeling regarding college. I would classify most of my college experience as pretty sad. The same goes for my high school experiences. Every moment of college and high school, I just wanted to move onto the next period of my life, and it wasn’t because I believed that the next period of my life would be better; I just wanted whatever sadness I felt at the time to stop.
Truth be told, there are very few periods in my life that I would remember fondly, yet there is something about reflection that is able to distort these experiences into something that is worth remembering.
I used to have this train of thought that goes somewhere along the lines of: if you have a shitty life, you’ll eventually forget about how shitty it was and grow to remember it fondly.
If I think of nostalgia as a form of measurement bias, I can easily add an instrumental variable in my head in order to counter its effect, thus allowing me to measure the emotional value of my own experience to its true value. I just need to make sure that the instrument is correlated to the error term but uncorrelated to the regressors. Unfortunately, everything about my life is a determinant of another part of my life because I consider my life deterministic like that.
My therapist told me the other day that even though I attempt to have positive thoughts, I still fall into a pattern of negativity whenever I reflect on my past. He told me to analyze how my parents used to criticize me and reflect upon how those patterns have translated into the present. But I ignored the second bit because there is only a limited amount of Freud shit I can handle each day. Nevertheless, I see his point. Most of my writing is just a pity party starring me, myself, and I. Thus, I wonder if whenever I write, I indulge in these same trains of thought that I try to abandon for so long. When I write, there is absolutely no one to challenge my thoughts.
In high school, I wrote about this concept I created called the yearbook effect, which is basically another way to say the wave of nostalgia that comes at the end of school. Obviously, with COVID-19 and everything, there is very little room to experience nostalgia with my classmates, but the effect is still present in the messages I send back and forth.
I wonder what is the mechanism that establishes this force of nostalgia. Why is it that we are so prone to having negative experiences but also so receptive to misremembering memories in a positive light. On one hand, I would argue that human nature propels us to experience negative moments more intensely. On the other hand, nostalgia proves that there is a force that compels us to indulge in positivity regardless of whatever external merit it yields. What a contradiction.
The thing about poetic conclusions is that it necessitates poetry. Graduation is one of those poetic conclusions we have in life. I was discussing my commencement in a networking call today. The person I was talking to said that my online commencements were stupid. I agreed, but for some other reasons. At the end of the day, graduations are there, in my opinion, mostly to serve parents. After all, it is our parents that have invested the past twenty years of their life in raising us, and the end of college marks a departure from responsibility to independence.
I never really felt the emotional turbulence I expected to feel in transitions. I didn’t really feel anything from middle school to high school or even from high school to college. All these periods of my life were pretty equally sad, so there wasn’t much difference in terms of how I classified them in my head. Even though I can block them out, conceptually, they all meld into one block of sadness to me.
There was this girl I used to be friends with who told me about how she would lie to herself in her journal. Then, when she looked back on it later, she would be able to believe that her past was a lot happier that she remembered it to be.
I wonder if that’s what nostalgia is: Are we just re-writing our own memories to convince ourselves that we had much happier of a life than we actually did?
I don’t think much about high school or middle school anymore. I have effectively compartmentalized those memories so well that I don’t even know what recess of my mind I left them in. But, sometimes, I read some of my journal entries from those days. They were, to put it simply, incredibly sad. They were sadder than anything than I write as of recent, and that’s even with my limited writing abilities back then. That being said, I used to only write whenever I was sad, so there is definitely some selection bias that goes into my early. Even though I can recall some happy memories off the top of my head, the sheer content I have produced about my own sadness serves as a relic of a past I don’t even remember. My writing is the archive that tells the truth about my feelings, regardless of how I have altered my memories over the past couple of years.
There’s probably no way I could ever assess how sad my college experience was. On one hand, I am me and will realistically have an inclination to remember my past as a lot more negative than it actually was. On the other hand, college high key pretty ass.
Oh well. So it goes.