I have a nostalgia problem. In my memory, events from the past are happier, more fun, and more rewarding than they really were. And as a trailing spouse, this nostalgia is something I am always trying to overcome.
I am generally happy with my life, but on the off-days, when I’m feeling a little depressed, I tend to glorify past jobs, past experiences, and the former places where we’ve lived. It’s a dangerous habit. The constant comparison reinforces my depression and the idea that I’m not better off in my current situation.
Luckily, I have a few strategies to keep my nostalgia firmly rooted in reality:
I remind myself that life is full of ups and downs. Sure, it’s annoying that we don’t have a car in Nairobi, but at the same time, we get to travel (by taxi) to amazing national parks each weekend to see wildlife.
My spouse reminds me that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side. I’ll glorify the merits of my old job, and he’ll say, “Yeah, but remember when you had to work 12 hour days and go in on the weekends and it was so exhausting that you never wanted to do anything fun.” Good point.
I get busy doing something fabulous. Sometimes, I just need to distract myself, maybe by taking a kiswahili class, or starting a blog. If I can ground myself in the present, then I can stop dwelling on the past.
This week in particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about the past because it’s time for my 10-year high school reunion. (And for obvious reasons, I won’t be able to attend.) But I keep reminding myself that while high school was great, it’s not nearly as great as living in Kenya with the man I adore.
How do you stay grounded in the present?