The strong desire to return to an earlier time in life, a bittersweet longing for the past in certain situations, and in a way, homesickness are the elements of nostalgia. We’ve all had our moments where we’ve wanted to go back in time whether that be to change a particular situation or to relive it all over again. Similar to flashbacks, it’s about reliving a certain instance in time. They can feel as if it’s happening in your current moment. But can too much of it be a bad thing?
Two types of Nostalgia
According to Hal McDonald, a professor of literature and linguistics at Mars Hill University, has speculated that nostalgia may exist in two forms: restorative and reflective. McDonald wrote for Psychology Today that
“Restorative nostalgia, involving a desire to ‘rebuild the lost home,’ views the past with an eye toward recreating it—a desire to relive those special moments. It is what spurs us to pull out our phone at 1 A.M. and call up an old boyfriend or girlfriend because we just heard ‘our song’ on the radio.”
“Reflective nostalgia, on the other hand, accepts the fact that the past is, in fact, past, and rather than trying to recreate a special past experience, savors the emotions evoked by its recollection.”
The Pro’s and Con’s of Nostalgia
One of the best things about experiencing nostalgia is it can give us a sense of who we want to be in the future. The feeling allows us to connect to people and emotions from the past that ultimately help us grow. We never truly realize it until we get older, but it is an essential psychological function. It’s learning in so many ways because we are living through nostalgia only to experience it again by reliving the past. It’s also a feeling that everyone has felt to some degree and further proves how connected the feeling can bring us. Nostalgia can help us unify the feelings and experiences of conflict. The term itself can’t even be considered somewhat of a conflict because it is a bitter-sweet emotion. It’s always great to remember the past and the good times we had in our lives, but that bitterness stems from knowing we can never really go back. Time is something that we have so much of yet so little, and I believe that feeling can help us deal with the feeling of bittersweetness.
With nostalgia, there is a deep yearning to want to relive certain situations. It can be a contradictory feeling like bittersweetness that makes you not want to engage in the memory, but you feel as though you have no choice because you want to be as happy as you were in that moment. The interesting thing about this feeling is that it can be more harmful than comforting to some. It’s easy to get consumed in overlooked negative aspects trying to see and feel good but sometimes when you’re brought back to reality, it hits harder than you might remember.
Reflective Nostalgia is one of those things that people will always experience as time goes on. It’s something we experience every day even if it’s not at its full capacity. Something to realize about nostalgia is that some of the most beautiful things that happen in your life can also be the saddest.. it can be quite detrimental to constantly be wanting to go back in time but you have to remember that you can only live in the present moment. Those memories and feelings will always be there.