I’ve decided that I am chronically nostalgic. I love to look back on the past, but not for the reasons you would think. I think it’s more because I love to be able to see how far I’ve come. Looking back on a distinct thought or memory gives me something to measure from so I can think to myself,
“but look how far I’ve come since then!”
I have always connected with music. Between me being a dancer for almost 20 years and being a musician, music is the first thing I turn to when words just can’t describe what I’m thinking/feeling. I do this thing where I will really connect with a song and listen to it over and over so that any time I go back and listen to it, I always have that memory saved in that song.
In fact, I literally have a playlist of songs that are all connected to specific memories. Reserved for the days when I am feeling reeaally nostalgic. And now any time I hear any of those songs, I’m instantly transported back to those feelings and thoughts and memories that are all now permanently woven into the song.
I was living in Argentina and going through one of the hardest times of my life. I was so focused on personal growth and I think I was changing and growing so much that I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I became so overwhelmed by how broken and flawed I was and suddenly I was in the deepest depression I’ve ever experienced.
I was spiraling.
I just remember listening to “Wait” by M83 over and over and over. It would be 2AM and my anxiety was keeping me awake for the umpteenth night in a row and I would turn on that song and sit cross legged on my bed with my palms clutching my knees and forcing myself to just BREATHE. Every time I listened I would force myself to slow down, trust in God, and just meditate. I probably played it hundreds of times throughout those next few months. It’s amazing because those feelings of peace and calm are forever saved in that song for me. It makes me realize how far I’ve come! I still struggle with managing anxiety, but I can look back to when I was in Argentina trying to figure out how to cope with it and realize how much better I am now.
Then there’s a song that reminds me of my first semester of college. My roommates and I were THE most unlikely, diverse group of friends who somehow all got along. We would scream this song [Acapella by Karmin] at the top of our lungs while we drove around the little town of Logan, Utah with the windows rolled down and hair blowing in each other’s faces and laughing so hard that none of us could even breathe. I had no idea who I was and had ZERO plans for the future, but that was the year that I decided I was going to give everything 110%. Making new friends, starting a career, setting goals to travel more, finishing school… whatever it was, I wanted to give it my all.
That was also around the time that I decided to become a fashion merchandiser and traveled out to Kent State University in Ohio to learn more about their fashion program. My life goal was to work at Nordstrom’s corporate buying office in Seattle or design their window displays. It’s funny to even think about, because my life has turned out so drastically different (read: BETTER) than my immature 19-year-old self ever would have dreamed.
There is even a song that reminds me of my first “serious” relationship. After high school he went to serve an LDS mission, which meant he would move to another state/country for 2 years to focus on teaching people about God. The only contact we would have was an hour of emails one day a week. There was a song that he would always sing and the day he left, I listened to that song and cried my eyes out for hours. No, probably even days. I was so scared that things would change and we would lose our friendship. I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough for him when he got back.
I think I was just scared of any kind of change.
I liked where things were at. They were comfortable. Familiar. Easy. But honestly, I think that letting that relationship go was what forced me to learn to embrace change. Heck, now I thrive on change. Experiences where change ended up leading me in a better direction have ultimately gotten me in the habit of always looking for what else I can change. And I am such a better person now because of it.
And then there was the time I was in Europe with my family for 2 months. I was 16 and, as most extroverted high schoolers, was really feeling the FOMO of being away from my friends and boyfriend all summer. Now every time I listen to Ed Sheeran’s first album (okay YES I was that stereotypical 2011 teenager and don’t pretend you were never enchanted by his angel voice) I’m instantly back in Germany, looking out the train window in awe as we pass the most beautiful fields and mountains that I had ever seen. That was the summer that I became so much better connected with myself and the type of person I wanted to grow into, all while snapping blurry pictures on my iPod Touch of course.
Another one of my favorites is listening to “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis. It takes me back to sitting in Mason’s car and watching him get teary eyed as he told me about how that song had come on the radio and that’s one of the first moments that he realized he was in love with me. And we proceeded to listen to the song and talk about how much we loved each other and how we wanted to get married someday (spoiler: “someday” came a lot sooner than initially planned).
Fast forward to October, a month after our wedding. We were living in my grandparent’s basement while Mason finished renovating our new little house in Orem, Utah. I would listen to the same song every morning at 6AM when I drove to school and sing the lyrics as loud as I could with the windows rolled down and snow blowing into the car in attempt to keep myself awake. If I tell you which song it was you’d really start to doubt my taste in music, but the lyrics were about falling for someone so hard that it takes your breath away. To this day, listening to that song makes my heart jump and swell and gives me butterflies just thinking about HOW IN LOVE I AM. I never thought I could feel so much love or be so vulnerable with someone. It’s so special to relive those feelings of being newly-weds about to move into our first house together… but it’s more than that. I also get to look back and realize how much we have grown together since then. We communicate sooo much better, we’ve learned to set goals together, managed our finances together, navigated buying a house together, and everything in-between. I can’t believe how far we have come in only 3.5 years!!
SO I GUESS WHAT I’M SAYING IS… IT’S OKAY TO LOOK BACK SOMETIMES.
There have been so many times where I’ve felt discouraged because I feel like I’m not growing fast enough. I’m still in the same situation and mindset I was a year ago. I’ve wasted a whole year! I was supposed to be the CMO of a multi-million dollar company by now, but instead I am in the same tiny apartment with half of my belongings in storage eating frozen burritos while wearing the same clothes I’ve had since high school!
Trust me. I’ve been there.
I tend to set tons of goals at the beginning of the year/month/week and then feel really frustrated that I’m nowhere near what I thought I would accomplish by then. If you relate to that at all then CONGRATULATIONS. WE ARE BOTH OVER-ACHIEVERS.
I had a friend say to me a few weeks ago, “All we are expected to do in life… is to LIVE. To EXIST. Anything else is just extra.” I think sometimes we set high expectations for ourselves and go into life expecting to do something big. Stop global warming, become YouTube famous, start a business that is going to change the world. But you know, growth takes time. I’ve slowly been learning that doing small things can be just as life changing. Making conversation with the lady behind the check out counter at the grocery store. Offering your seat to the person who just got on the bus. Waking up on time 3 days in a row. Listening to an educational podcast instead of binge-watching another Netflix series.
Growth and change don’t come from one big thing. It comes from hundreds of little actions and decisions that all nudge you a little bit closer. It’s gradually starting a new habit or changing your mindset or outlook on life. And do you know when that starts?
TODAY. RIGHT NOW.
Of course it’s good to keep looking forward and thinking of how you can grow next, but I think it’s equally important to look back every once in awhile to remember how far you’ve come. Whether it’s listening to music or reading old journal entries or reminiscing on the ‘good old days’ with your best friend of 15 years, take the time to appreciate how much you have already accomplished.
Think of all the foods you used to refuse to eat! Or how you used to burn things every time you tried to cook! The time your mom had to walk you to the neighbor’s house because you were too scared to apologize for back-sassing them! Or eating your McDonald’s parfait with a straw because you were scared to ask the guy behind the counter for an extra spoon! Look at how much better we are at communicating and being good people and learning new things every day!!!
Growth is slow. Growth is hard. Be patient with yourself and with the process. Appreciate yourself and everything you’ve worked for to get to where you are now.