1. You think about who you used to be the last time you were here.
You reflect on what age you were, the place you were at in your life, and the goals you had at that time. At times it can feel a bit surreal to think about the person you used to be vs. the person you are now vs. who you’d like to be in the future.
Sometimes when I think about all the different experiences I’ve had I almost feel detached from the younger version of myself, as if she’s a story in someone else’s book. When you revisit the memory of the person you used to be it can be an eye opening reflection on how much you’ve grown and evolved over the years.
2. There’s a bittersweet feeling that comes when you realize the things and places you once knew are no longer the same.
You drive through the streets and the neighborhoods you used to frequent only to realize just how much is different now. Families have moved, new buildings have been put up, others have been torn down. You discover that not only have you changed since the last time you were here but the place has changed in its own way too. It’s a bittersweet feeling when you know nothing will ever be the same again. Everything experiences its own rebirth.
3. You look back at how far you’ve come since you last left.
We are constantly in the process of reinventing ourselves and there’s no greater realization of that than when you come back to a place, like a ghost revisiting their former life. Maybe the last time you were here you were about to embark on a new journey of some kind or there was an experience that left you forever changed and compelled to start new somewhere else. You aren’t the same person you used to be and you won’t be the same person when you come back a year, two years, or five years from now.
4. You miss the people you used to know.
An unfortunate side effect of growing up is growing apart from the people you used to know the best. People move, change jobs, significant others, and begin again in their own way. As much as we think we stay connected to others through social media there’s an empty experience that comes from that digital connection unless both people make a concentrated effort to stay in each other’s lives. When you revisit those same old haunts you used to experience with certain people you’re forced to come to terms with your relationships with them.
5. You romanticize the better memories and bury the moments that hurt you the most.
We like to immerse ourselves in nostalgia and romanticize moments of our lives, even if they weren’t ideal circumstances, even if there were so many negative factors involved. I think this is why a lot of older people talk warmly about the moments in their 20s when they were struggling.
With every obstacle you overcome you become stronger in the process. When you look back at these times you focus on the moments that changed you, that made you evolve into the person you are now, and you bury the memories that incite pain and heartbreak. It’s the human way.