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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Amanda Monthei: North Wind staff members bid farewell

“Nostalgia is when you want things to stay the same. I know so many people staying in the same place.” — Jeanne Moreau

Nostalgia is the characterizing (and expected) emotion of a college graduation, is it not?

Amanda Monti: Managing Editor
Amanda Monthei: Managing Editor

While free from public education, college graduates are for the first time in their lives also riding solo, void of a system that basically provides friends, mentors, organization and a means to acquire knowledge.

Nostalgia is our presumed response as we transition from the college years, characterized by acceptable irresponsibility, and into the world of nine-to-fives, unpaid vacation and looking for jobs that have dental benefits.

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Meanwhile, we are to sit and reminisce on how sweet everything was during the “best years of our lives” — the friends made and things learned and fun had. “Oh how great the college years were, I just wish I could go back and live it all again!” we’ll say when we’re 35 and experiencing the first of maybe five midlife crises.’

Nostalgia is a black hole of emotion, but it’s attractive and basically unavoidable.

Sometimes I like to lay in bed right after I wake up and think about how much fun I had in November 2011. That was a great month (I’m being sarcastic I actually have no clue what I did in November 2011). Either way, guess what? November 2011 won’t happen again.

And that sunrise I woke up to, front-row-center, from a sleeping bag on top of Hogback with friends close by? That probably won’t ever happen again either.

But the mere presence of nostalgia means things won’t be the same. If we desire and waste mental energy on what we’ve already experienced, than we’re not doing enough to create the moments of our future nostalgia — we’re not, for lack of a better cliche — living in the present. We’re feeling comforted by what was and not experiencing what is.

As some of us prepare for graduation, a long-held rite of passage into the responsibility and occasional bleakness of I-need-insurance-and-money-to-pay-off-student-loans-and-possibly-feed-myself adulthood, let’s not forget that the memories we created here are great and all, but most of us are only 22 or 23.

Having the mentality that the best is behind you is setting yourself up for a pretty bad time — a self-fulfilling prophecy of youthful longing culminating, most frequently, in a good old fashioned midlife crisis.

The idea that youth equals happiness and that we can’t experience anything remotely fun after the age of 25 is unique to the western world, and we therefore can’t take all the blame for this perspective. The culture in which we came of age has become increasingly obsessed with nostalgia, with the past and, similarly, with youth. It’s no wonder some think that college was the best time of their lives, a thought that I imagine some of us have going in to our final week of our college career — that no matter what happens, we can always fall back on the memories we created in college to know that we have “lived.”

Nostalgia is also repeatedly played up by the media and popular culture as a means to gain page views and advertising. How many times have you clicked on a Buzzfeed post that had something to do with ‘90s video games, music, toys or food? How many times have you gone to see a movie because it was a sequel or remake of a movie you watched as a kid? How many times have you heard your parents say they wish they were 20 again? It’s concerning that we can’t enjoy the daily experiences that ultimately define our lives and instead wish to be thrust back into a time when Backstreet Boys reigned supreme, Ring Pops sufficed as a week’s worth of allowance and we got our Tamagotchis and yo-yos taken away in math class. (Though Ring Pops are pretty good).

But besides possibly embracing the notion that maybe 30 is better than 20 (because we all know 20 was better than 10) I’d like to challenge my fellow graduating seniors to consider embracing the wisdom that comes with age, and that as they approach the expectedly defining moment of their lives up to this point, they avoid getting sucked into the inherent sentimentality of the next week. Graduation is a big deal and all, but who’s to say more big deals aren’t going to happen in the next month, year or decade?

But the impulse to reminisce on the good times had in college is, of course, going to be unavoidable in the week leading up to our crowning academic achievement. However, this nostalgia should be enjoyed in moderation, and besides, maybe our time would be better spent enjoying our final weeks in Marquette and remaining engaged in the present. After all, to have nostalgia is to ultimately desire the same things of your past, but who wants to stay in the same place?

And while I can imagine that life won’t always be the illustrious, shining entity that it seems to be right now — on the cusp of perhaps the most tangible achievement of my life thus far — I’m willing to bet there is going to be a moment in approximately 13 days in which I have a total, unprecedented, existential meltdown at the prospect of moving away from the friends I’ve made and this cool, rocky and snow-covered place I’ve come to love.

But such is life, and change happens.

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