Time Machines Are Overrated

This is me at 17 years old, looking as cool as I possibly could (which was not very cool at all).
This is me at 17 years old, looking as cool as I possibly could (which was not very cool at all).

Do you ever look back on a time on your life and think “wow, I wish I was back there”? Do you ever find yourself getting emotional about how great the past was, because the present doesn’t seem as great? Do you ever want to hop in a magical DeLorean and visit your former life?

Being in the early stages of real-life adulting, I do this a lot. I always find myself wishing I could be 17/18 again. I’m always thinking about how great those sixth form days were and how much better everything was. I’m always going over all those memories and getting sad when I realise I can’t go back there.

And it’s not surprising.

When I was in sixth form, every morning involved a bacon roll and hot chocolate without any worrying that I was too fat, too greedy or too unhealthy. I got to spend every day with my friends, didn’t have to think about anything serious like bills and mortgages, and didn’t have to wake up before 7:45. There was the excitement of going out drinking for the first time, and getting to do adult things, but without all the responsibilities that come with it now. Weekends were spent with my friends, money came from my parents and the majority of my lessons involved messing around in the drama studio. The future was wide open and the prospect of going to university and finding myself was so exciting, so wonderful.

But even though drinking, being irresponsible and eating bacon rolls does seem appealing, it wasn’t without negatives. A lot of the time, I look back with a rose-tinted view of how things were. I forget that I was trying to do 7 stressful A-Levels and struggling to fit all the work in. I forget that my funds were limited and I couldn’t find a part-time job because I was under 18 and had no experience. I forget the dreary afternoons studying dance theory and wishing I could just go home. I forget how intimidated I was by the popular kids and how awkward a trip through the 6th form block could be. I forget the miserable nights out where everyone was coupled-up while I danced alone.

It’s easy to forget all this when I’ve got a house to clean, bills to pay and long days at work. The past can feel so rosy, so much better in comparison to to the present, especially if you’ve got to “adult” now. It’s hard for me to see sometimes, but there are so many things in my life that are better than they were back then. I have my dream job, I’m not having to worry about whether I’ll pick the wrong degree and completely mess-up my life and I don’t have to worry about getting good grades to secure my future (which is btw, a ridiculous worry, grades aren’t everything). I’m in a committed and happy relationship, which is something I never dreamed I’d have, and I’m so much more confident than I used to be. I have a lovely house, earn my own money and I don’t have to ask my mum’s permission to go on a night out. And I still have amazing friends, even if I don’t get to see them every day.

Yes, the past may be great, but it doesn’t mean I should be hating on the present. The present is also great. Awesome, even. I mean, I have reclining sofas now. 17-year-old me had never even seen a reclining sofa. That’s definitely progress on the happiness scale!*

*Minor disclaimer: Reclining sofas are not an automatic gateway to happiness. But they do facilitate ultimate laziness in any given situation, which makes for a very happy Amy.

So if like me, you’re wishing you could go backwards, then take a minute to think about all the good things. Think about what makes you happy now, and, if things aren’t great right now, think about the future. Hold onto all the happy memories, yes, but make sure you remember that we can only go forward, so there’s no point wasting hours longing for a past you can’t reach.

Saying that, I’ll probably look back in three years and wish I was here. Because old grass always seems greener when you have no time machine. Or whatever the saying is…

Do you miss anything from the past?

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9 Comments

  1. Honestly? I miss my childhood most of all. I miss my parent’s love and the simpler times. I miss my childhood I barely got. I miss the crazy trends of the 90’s and the introduction of Pokemon. I miss the good old times of growing up without a care in the world.

  2. Maybe I’m weird but I don’t miss my past at all, aha. Only because I had a sucky childhood experience and awkward and not-so-fun high school experience. I usually wish I could fast forward in the future, so I’m not worrying about the same things I’m worrying about now.

    I totally agree though – that it’s easy to overlook the good things that you’re experiencing now. It’s really easy to focus on all the hard parts of life because you’re going through them. I think it’s a good reminder, like you said, to focus on the good things and keep moving forward! Baby steps are better than no steps at all.

    Also – that picture of 17 year old you is super cute!

  3. There are times when I wish I can relive parts of my past. Though, I do enjoy the future a lot more because I can afford things I didn’t have back then XD. You guys are lucky you can drink alcohol at a younger age than us in the US! That gap between 18-21 is not fun at all- especially when you have friends who are older than you @__@. I feel like there are pros and cons for any age you’re at. Eg, younger = lack of money and now = all of them bills.

    At most, I do miss living at school and doing whatever I want to do XD.

  4. There are times that I think back, but I love being where I am in life. Yes, responsibilities can get in the way when I just want to be lazy and read books all day, but I love the structure these responsibilities bring.

    I don’t think my current self could go back to my past, no matter the year. I would just be frustrated to have to repeat high school or even college all over.

    Great post though! It really made me think about having a time machine.

  5. The only thing I regret is how I didn’t take my time in college to figure things out for myself. I was always doing things for other people and putting myself second — including my career choice, so now I’m starting over. But like you said, I am so happy where I’m at now. My mistakes and choices have led me to where I am now and I couldn’t be more grateful.

  6. I always reminiscime about the past! ALWAYS. Especially I’m having a bad day, I always dwell how things used to be and how I didn’t have any responsbility and I had no fear in what I was doing. Wish I could go back and still hav the courage I used to when I was younger.

    “I’m not having to worry about whether I’ll pick the wrong degree and completely mess-up my life ” – Completely agree. There is way too much pressure on kids these days. Not even these days, I feel like there was always pressure on kids. My sister is currently in her first year of sixth form, and her school have already arranged open days for unis and given her leaflets, books, the works. And the amount of WORK she has to do. Jesus. I feel sorry for her, but at the same time I know she can handle it. But man. It’s gotta be hard.

    There are definitely some parts in my life that I wish I could go back to, but then again, I’m actually okay where I am now. Slowly getting there.

  7. I have to admit that I often look back and engulf myself in the past. Maybe to the point that it’s unhealthy haha. I often feel sad about how my life isn’t as great now and that I’m not ‘truly’ happy as I was back in sixth form. Sixth form was one of the best years of my life, no doubt. It wasn’t as stressful as uni, I didn’t care about anything and was studying things that genuinely interest me at the time. Nowadays it’s more to do with “I have to just do it to do it” 😂

    I think meditation has really helped me stay in the present because like you said staying present is what really matters and is what has an impact on the future, not the past.

    I do wish I could go back at least once and choose not to do something that has greatly impacted me today. BUT IMMA LIVE WITH IT NOW.

  8. This post really resonated with me. I often reminisce about school and college with Tyrone, and we laugh about all the stupid things that happened. But in reality it wasn’t so great because it was when I was at college that I started struggling with my mental health. It wasn’t as care free as I sometimes remember.

    I have a bad habit of overlooking the things that make me happy right now, and spending too much time reflecting on the past.

  9. I do miss my college days sometimes (but not really the time before then). I miss my social life in college and how much I hung out with friends back then. I also miss my younger body that had a better metabolism, haha. However, I don’t miss the school work or worrying about graduating and getting a job!

    Even with adult responsibilities, I’m much happier with the present for the same reasons you listed. I’m in a happy relationship, I have a good job, and it feels good to be independent. Plus, I can play hours and hours of video games without anyone stopping me. That is something I couldn’t do while in school or with my parents!

    I like your message at the end. Definitely agree on continuing to move forward!

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