In isolation over the summer and even in these current, uncertain and uncomfortable times, I’ve found it more difficult to create and to be excited about things. Not a lot of things sparked my excitement or gave me a feeling of anticipation. But as I looked back over my summer, I noticed that the moments of happiness all seemed to have one thing in common: they were nostalgic to me. 

Now I know having too much nostalgia could just disappoint you in the end, but I think nostalgia can be beneficial if used in proper doses. 

For example, one day I was in a funk. I hadn’t moved all day and I just didn’t feel present. But as I was scrolling through YouTube, I saw a video from Christy Carlson Romano, who voiced Kim Possible and played Ren on “Even Stevens.” She has a series where she invites celebrities who have played iconic roles in the early 2000s to cook a meal that pertains to their iconic character or show.

In this particular video, she was cooking with her former co-star Will Friedle, who played Ron Stoppable in “Kim Possible.” Just seeing those two together and hearing them reenact scenes and answer fan questions brought a feeling of joy that I hadn’t felt in a while. It was like seeing friends you haven’t talked to in 10 years. 

Now nostalgia doesn’t pertain to just movies and videos. Music can have the same effect. Every time my mom and I turn on the PopRocks XM radio station we always end up tapping our feet and singing along. Some songs even bring up memories that get us to have conversations about my childhood and certain memories we remember while hearing this song before.

Unfortunately, happiness isn’t the only feeling nostalgia can bring. It can bring up a lot of painful feelings too. I can’t watch “Aladdin” without a feeling of sadness because of how incredible Robin Williams was. I’ll never be able to watch the last three “Avengers” movies and “Black Panther” the same way again because of Chadwick Boseman’s passing. I’ll never get to experience that particular feeling again. I’ll never create new moments with these people, and I’ll never have the anticipation of seeing them again.

But even though there’s pain, there’s also a sense of pride to have the chance to witness those moments. I’m honored to have lived these moments. Even though the feelings of the memories have changed, I’ll know to use them to guide me in tough times and to use them as lessons in my life.

All in all, nostalgia is powerful. It can bring you out of the darkest places, yet bring you down just as far. It’s all about how you use that feeling. Will you use it as a stepping stone, or let it hold you back?