The Bad Side of Nostalgia

Summer can be a time of nostalgia. Family vacations, festivals, days trips to local interest spots all bring back memories of our childhoods as we share favorite places and activities with our new friends and children. But nostalgia can also bring with it melancholy. Sometimes I’ve found this to be true for me, and over the years, I’ve learned to identify certain things that, even though I love them, I know will drop me into a period of depression.

One of the things that will often leave me depressed is music that I enjoyed during my teenage years. During those years, I preferred to run counter to many of my friends. While they were listening to the latest pop, metal, or alternative bands, I spent my money on Christian music. At the time, you could find a Christian alternative for nearly any type of music genre found on the top 40 lists, and so I gathered quite a diverse collection. The lyrics weren’t quite as diverse, however. Many of the songs focused on how the singer failed at being a “good” Christian or how faith can be a struggle.

While these songs had a positive influence on me as a teenager trying to figure out morals and choices for myself, today is a different story. Having become disillusioned with Christianity during college, these songs now serve to remind me of the things I still find distasteful about the religion. (I won’t go into detail as doing so will only serve to create a destructive blog rather than a constructive one.)

I’ve kept all the albums I accumulated during my teenage years, though many people may wonder why, especially if I dislike the messages behind the lyrics. The reason is two-fold really. First off, I can’t bring myself to sell or give away something that affects me in such a negative way. Why would anyone offer up a message they don’t agree with to someone else? Secondly, going back to the beginning of this blog, I still feel a certain level of nostalgia in listening to these albums, and I do enjoy that. As long as I moderate just how much time I spend listening to these songs, I can avoid the depression that they may induce in me.

And that can be key. Most people have periods of their life that they look back on with embarrassment or shame. We’ve all believed in ideas that we no longer agree with or that we’ve changed our minds about because of expanded knowledge and understanding. Sometimes these periods of our lives included things that helped us define our identities – like favorite music or clothing styles or other belongings – and we still enjoy those things to some extent. As long as we focus on what we enjoyed rather than that with which we no longer agree, we can enjoy our memories of the past without them affecting the present.

Hezzie

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