Editor's note: This column originally appeared in the March 14, 2016, edition of The Daily Nebraskan.
It’s a little bit odd, constantly finding the world in a whirlwind of change. I’ve caught myself looking back and barely being able to recognize my past, whether it’s the movie theatre I’ve worked at for four years that finally got rid of the Douglas carpets or the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo that’s been transforming. In just less than a year after graduating, even the English department will look foreign to me when the first floor renovations wrap up.
I’ve always found myself in an age of transitions.
In other words, it’d be safe to say that every time I leave someplace, that place always seems to get better as soon as I leave. Not because of anything I do, but just because of the same age-old reason; it was time. Time just has a funny habit of pursuing change as soon as I leave the room.
And it would be nice, for once, to live in a world of concretes for even just a moment. But that’s asking a bit too much from the world. That’s like asking the Internet to shut off for the day or to ask Trump to stop telling the world that his fingers aren’t small.
I was born in 1994, which means that election seasons have always marked beginnings and ends for me. High school started in the heat of the 2008 presidential election, my college career started with the 2012 campaign, and now...well now I’m ending my academic career by voting for my political future.
Every time I look back, I feel like I’m looking into another era, another page in the history books. I’m hyper conscious of it. I think we all are.
I guess the easiest way to explain it is a kind of depressed nostalgia. I want something from my past, but I’m not all too sure what it is. Like I said earlier, I’ve been an archeologist for the past few weeks, studying the time capsules I’ve nestled inside diary entries to better understand how exactly I’ve gotten to where I am today. They’re the only solid--though somewhat biased--pieces of history that are still tangible.
Looking back to my discrepant Tweety Bird diary that has kept itself together with a bit of spinal tape and hope, I can read history: the presidential elections of 2004 and the inception of Amber Alert and how frightened it made me. I can also see into how my family dynamic evolved from my parents treating me like a child to them treating me like a young woman...as well as my stupid rebellious phase. But I can also mark the day where I first started my journey with depression.
It’s a bit chilling, and comic, to see how that black cloud’s been following me.
But these are all just moments, little entries in time from a girl who never knew what it was like to live in the same state for more than two or three years. And now, here I am, having lived in Nebraska for half my life, confused and scared. Nebraska has this strange gravitational hold on people. It recognizes change but seldom accepts it. Instead, it stays perfectly still until the harvest...of corn. Because, in case you haven’t noticed, that’s how we keep track of the seasons: by stalking our vegetables.
I’m graduating in August, and I’m filled with nervous energy. It’s been fizzing up inside me for 10 years, and I feel like I’m about to burst. I’m afraid of the whiplash, of being thrust into motion again. For someone who has grown up in the cracks formed by change, I’m afraid to make the plunge again into movement.
I feel like all of us millennials feel this way: products of change, movers and doers, but the frightened and nostalgic. Other generations tell us to cap ourselves, that it’s better to be silent than risk saying anything. They tell us to stop looking at our phones and to have conversations again. They tell us that we don’t yet understand the world and that we haven’t earned our voice.
I was standing in line to caucus last week and listened to the people ahead of me talk about how there were too many young people out voting. Saying how we weren’t experienced enough to vote.
But we are. We have seen more transitions in 20 years than any other generation has in that small window of time. I have seen the birth of YouTube, the evolution of the cell phone, and I have seen social change through the Amber Alert. I might have lived in a dark, uncertain generational fault, but I have overcome that.
I wish that I could look back and meet my past rather than its reconstruction. I hate how I won’t be able to recognize the first floor of Andrews a year after I graduate and that I can’t navigate Henry Doorly Zoo like I once could.
But living a life of transitions has not only made me stronger, it has taught me how the past is only a memory, and I literally cannot go back. I’ve tried, and I can’t meet with the same familiar faces I once knew.
I wish I could.
I envy the friends of mine whose families have lived in the same house for their whole lives. But again, I’m glad I haven’t. Being a byproduct of change isn’t easy, but at least now I know that there’s only one way to move through life, and that’s by moving forward.