Photos provide a glimpse into who I used to be


My friend Elle and I, recreating a photo taken on Halloween.

I love reminiscing about the past. I love it a little too much, even, to the point where it consumes my present. I think about who I was then, who I am now, all the things I should’ve done differently, and the things I wish I had said until it eventually turns into an inescapable spiral.

One of the ways I obsess over the history of my life is by staring at photos. Often, my friends and I find a picture from exactly a year ago, and then, suddenly all I can think about is how the time flew by.

But, I find delight in doing that. I treasure seeing how different I was a year ago and pondering how different I’ll be next year. It’s a way to see how I’ve grown, not just physically, but also mentally. I notice the mannerisms and the habits of my former self and compare them to right now. Do I smile more in the pictures from today? I get to see phases of my life captured through hundreds of camera flashes.

Furthermore, I love to recreate pictures. I crave to see the most subtle changes in my disposition, side by side. Sometimes, it’s because I miss how things used to be. Everything gets more and more complicated as I age, and comparing the sweet simplicity of the past to the all-knowing present comforts me as I recall that all the insignificant, trivial problems of today will be forgotten by this time next year.

As I admire the photos of the past, I cannot wait to look back on the future history that is the present.

Of all the memories scattered across my camera roll, the pictures I have the least of are candids. Some of them make me despise every single facet of myself, and others immediately become the wallpaper of my phone. In most photos, in the mirror, and in all the times I see myself, I’m expecting it, so getting a glimpse of my genuine, unprepared self is refreshing. I’m still terrified of others’ perception of me, but for one moment I can pretend it’s characterized by a version of myself frozen in time.

While I see my whole Photos app as a treasured place on my phone, the most special part is my Favorites folder. The best parts of my existence are all blended into one album, from images rendered ‘iconic’ amongst my friends and me to reminders of good times. My favorites album is a culmination of every photo I’ve looked at and decided was special to me. Photos that need to be remembered and not lost in the sea of screenshots and accidentally-taken photographs that I forgot to delete.

I feel so fortunate to exist in a world where I can capture the highlights of my teenage years with the simple click of a button. As I admire the photos of the past, I cannot wait to look back on the future history that is the present.