There is something comforting and cozy about watching a show or movie from your childhood. A familiarity envelops the experience. You may remember every line, the introductory song or one episode that you really loved from a decade previous.
Nostalgia is a beautiful thing at times.
It is not a new concept for me, but nostalgia is something I did not really appreciate until I gradually made my way through high school and college. When we are all home on break, my friends and I regale each other with times from elementary school, middle school and all the in-between. There is a sense of comfort in the shared experience that, despite the seeming insignificance at the time, holds weight as memory in the present.
I remember as a kid, my parents always played their classic rock CDs throughout the house, and as an elementary schooler, I did not understand the appeal of “old music.” As a lover of classic rock now, this lack of understanding feels out of place upon reflection, but in the moment, I was genuinely confused as to why they wouldn’t play the music popular on the radio and instead opted for their CDs. The ability to connect a memory or feeling associated with a period of time in one’s life is truly remarkable. Little did I know it then, but there was an element of nostalgia when my parents put The Beatles or Pink Floyd or U2 on. Television shows, movies, songs, pictures — they can hold tangible memories encapsulated within them, like accessible personal supercuts made from some point in our lives.
This sense of nostalgia is prominent within today’s popular culture. Whether it be the inception of Disney+ or the fact that “Victorious”, a popular Nickelodeon show from the 2000s, was just put on Netflix, there is accessibility and focus among many high school and college students to re-watch things from our childhood. In the grand scheme of things, shows and movies from a decade ago may not be considered “nostalgic,” given that not much time has passed, but there is a sense of comfort in familiarity.
As college students, we are always undergoing change. There is always something happening, something being shifted out of its place of normalcy to a place of obscurity. I think the onslaught and accessibility of shows and movies from our childhoods reflects something similar to what my parents sought in their classic rock CDs — a sense of familiarity amongst a vast newness. Recognizing a line from a show or a movie or being able to sing along to the opening theme gives us comfort in knowing exactly what is coming next.
Personally, I find the excitement and chatter regarding the new Disney platform simply a manifestation of something that has always been there, and now, college students are finding it. Nostalgia is something that we all search for in some capacity. For some, it may be the Disney movies of their childhoods, for others it is music. Feeling nostalgic can be brought upon by something as simple as a three-minute song or a 21-minute episode of a television show.
It is both good and bad to look back on things. Heavy reliance on looking back or attempting to relive parts of the past is not a healthy practice. Overindulging or fixating on things that have happened inhibit an individual’s ability to continue on in the present. There is a level of nostalgic indulgence that is appropriate but surpassing such fails to allow people to live in the moment.
Not all songs bring good memories, and not all television show episodes remind me of happy times, but that is the humanity of nostalgia. Not all moments are inherently joyful or upsetting, but that is what makes each individual who they are: The past shapes the present which builds the future. With that I think there is a human aspect surrounding the excitement of Disney’s new streaming service or Netflix’s newest additions. There is comfort as we move into adulthood, with so many question marks regarding differing parts of our lives, in reliving the familiar. As my parents did with their music, and I do with mine, we use nostalgia as a necessary means of comfort and warmth when so many things are changing around us.
Samantha Szuhaj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.