For many college freshmen, myself included, the first semester is a nostalgia-ridden affair. After the excitement of the first few weeks passes and you begin to settle in, it may seem like every song reminds you of home. You long for a home cooked meal, are desperate to see your friends, and yearn to be back, nestled in the “good old days”. This is good. This means you’ve had a great experience in life so far and don’t want to see those times end. There’s nothing wrong in appreciating what you used to have and reminiscing every now and then – but let’s stop there.
There really never was a time in your life called “the good old days.” The good old days don’t exist and never did – or better yet, they exist every second of every day of your life. You’re just too stubborn to notice them.
The season finale of The Office presented its own version of this predicament, and this clip sums up the whole deal perfectly. You’re living in the good old days your entire life, but you don’t recognize this fact until they’ve supposedly “passed” you. And thus you end up wasting your present good old days feeling sorry and nostalgic for the ones you’ve left behind, which inevitably leads to a vicious cycle in which your reckless nostalgia steals potential value from the present and makes these good old days less than good.
So now we return to the first semester of college, and you desperately wish your best friends from high school were around to go grab a bite for dinner and then head to some party with you. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, as I strongly encourage you keep in touch with your old friends and spend a weekend at each other’s colleges and all that great stuff. But the yearning for the comforts of home need not be intense.
The trick is to recognize that just as you became incredibly close with one group of people and places and customs during your high school years, you’re going to become incredibly close – in fact probably closer – with a new group of people and places and customs. And when you graduate, you’re going to end up somewhere else with another group of people and places and customs. The cycle continues throughout the entirety of your life. You may keep in touch with these people and places – and I hope you do – but if not, all is not lost. You don’t need to dwell on reminiscing and nostalgia in order to honor the memories of your “good old days,” because as time passes, you become a direct embodiment of all of these people, places, and customs. They have each impacted you in such a way that one aspect of your character is a manifestation of their impression on you – which essentially means that they are with you all the time. They are a part of you. Your past good old days and your present good old days mesh together to form the incredibly short experience of life.
So this is me, an inexperienced, unwise, and totally nostalgic 18 year-old college freshman, reassuring you that everything’s going to be alright if you keep in mind that you’re constantly living in the good old days, that they’ve never actually left you. It’s natural to feel lost, reminiscent, nostalgic, and more, since you have become so attached to the little comforts of home. I stumbled upon a quote by Miriam Adeney that reads “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” And to me, it’s a good price to pay. So long as there is in fact richness of loving and knowing the people you meet. Make your time count.