Nostalgia unites the world in its bittersweet beauty


Ren Brace

A stage in my life that nostalgia constantly brings me back to. In this picture, my sister Tara and I are experiencing the pure joy of being a kid playing in the snow.

Nostalgia: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy, personal associations.

Everywhere I go, I seem to be serenaded with the crescendoing harmonies of nostalgia. Finding an old stuffed animal provides a baseline, looking at old pictures provides the chorus, and watching The Lion King with my Mom sprinkles emotion and passion into this serendipitous song of nostalgia. 

This bittersweet feeling continues to lace its way into nearly every column I write and selects the items I use to decorate my room. Unable to ignore the memories and references to my childhood, I decided to immerse myself in its shimmering and reflective beauty. 

As memories of the past enveloped me in waves, I couldn’t help finding a deeper meaning within these bursts of recollections. Thinking back has allowed me to feel at peace, discovering who I was, who I am, and who I want to be.

As it turns out, nostalgia is most commonly found in the brain patterns of teenagers. While most expect older generations to be the most reflective, the nostalgic feeling is most vital in the young adult stage. In this phase of life, teenagers have one foot out the door, looking towards the future, while the other is left behind, always reluctant to leave the joys of childhood. 

In this manner, nostalgia can provide them with the answers they seek in order to move on. It shows teenagers that joy will continue to be found through a multitude of sources, even if it no longer stems from the innocence they once knew. Instead, happiness will thrive through understanding progress within oneself. 

Thinking back has allowed me to feel at peace, discovering who I was, who I am, and who I want to be.

— Lauren Brace

Just as nostalgia connects people to their past selves, it also forms bonds between generations; every parent wants to share with their children all the best experiences from their childhood, and watching their kids with the same joy can be one of the most powerful tools in forming a connection. 

In addition, this emotion does a tremendous job of uniting people through their shared experiences. Every “inside joke” is merely a shared remembrance of a fun time together, and every conversation about our youthful entertainment creates a topic that is relaxing and relatable.

It is important to acknowledge how nostalgia can unintentionally alienate those who don’t share the same experiences; however, it can overall improve the morale and connections in a social situation. When people are able to look back on the past and measure how far they’ve come since then, it forms a general feeling of satisfaction.

Some may believe that succumbing to nostalgia can be dangerous and cause people to be stuck in the past, but for the most part, it’s truly a fantastic coping mechanism. Plus, it has become easily accessible in the 21st century. With the vast extent of the media, the world is constantly reminded of everything they loved from their past.

Entertainment industries and advertisements have been harnessing the power of nostalgia. Advertisements target certain audiences with their references and shows like Stranger Things are not only able to appeal to their audience with a thrilling plot, but also the time period in which it is set. Recently, there has been an uptick in bands reuniting—once again kindling the flame of nostalgia. 

Whether nostalgia connects people to past versions of themselves, brings people together, or simply reminds us of our childhood joys, it without a doubt is a powerful emotion that should not be overlooked. In a world that is moving at an accelerated pace, everyone can learn a thing or two from taking a moment to step back and appreciate the progress.