As someone who chose to dedicate my whole dissertation to Neo-Victorianism and the act of revisiting the past, you could say telling me not to look back is like telling Marcella not to enter weird houses on her own at night.
In today’s lingo, we might say I had a boner for the bygone and we’d be hard-pressed to disprove it. I am indeed stimulated by everything that has happened in our lives before now and how it has navigated us to this point.
If there’s one caption I’d like to pick up and throw down the trash shoot (guess who’s been watching too much Friends on Netflix, eh? This is she) it’s the classic, ‘don’t look back, you’re not going that way’ accompanied with a hair flick of a girl, ya know, looking back. Slow applause.
In close second place in the competition for captions-I-never-want-to-scar-my-retinas-with-again, it’s: ‘with this one’.
This one’s mum and dad deliberated long and hard, for months, maybe even years over their name. Throw it in there for good measure, eh. Wouldn’t want to offend Bob and Theresa and their stellar baby name decision making skills would we.
I live for nostalgic moments and I’ve had a fair few happen to me lately, which is why I’m sat here with Spanish omelette leftovers riding shotgun, feeling v impelled to press pause on my chorizo plans and punch this post out instead. PS s/o to anyone else throwing snow day scraps into one big pot and hoping for the best.
If in doubt, chuck an egg in there somewhere. It’ll all work out in the end and if it doesn’t, it’s not the end. Lol.
I can’t get enough of looking back.
Old blog posts, Facebook TimeHops, camera-roll dogs I’ve saved for a rainy day. Looking back is the making of us.
It’s perspective and it’s the reminder we all need that – whether we know it or not – we’re always evolving. How else would we really be able to appreciate the fact that in 2012, I rocked up to a seminar in a sequin dress and aggressively bright ultra violet hair. So f*cking extra.
It’s what gives us those, ‘remember when I got sent to the head teacher for writing anal beard on a piece of paper and holding up to the window’ moments. Ah, secondary school.
Anal beard. Lol, it’s still funny.
Whether it’s memories, experiences or embarrassingly distasteful JR Fashions outfits, how can we expect to move forward with our lives if we don’t at least take stock and acknowledge who and what we were every now and again?
What we did, what we didn’t do – maybe even what we should have done and what we’d do differently now. Hindsight you filthy animal.
There’s at least two periods in my life that my recall seems a bit rusty and at 27, memory recall shouldn’t be an issue yet. I don’t know, perhaps Dr Phil can get back to me on that one?
College and uni seem like phases of my life that came and went. I know they happened, I just can’t believe they happened to me.
I can remember more about primary and secondary school than I can about those later life events and that’s weird, isn’t it? Why is that?
I struggled with uni, actually. My best friends took a gap year so they stayed home and life pretty much stuck to the script for them, for the next year at least.
I was lonely, I missed home, I was attempting to cope with my parents’ divorce and also coming to terms with the fact that the home I’d be coming back to now was about to be unrecognisable.
I was constantly internalising an overwhelming pressure to do well, self-applied of course. I can’t say anyone else really cared if I spent 20 odd grand on failure, snakebites and weekly Topshop sprees.
I cut my hair, I got a tattoo, put on weight, lost weight – did all the bog standard things someone who is trying to suss themselves out does.
As for college? At best, I remember curly fries on a Friday, f*cking funny performing arts lessons with a lisping Scottish teacher and even funnier music lessons with a fairly young teacher called Stacy.
We would constantly sing Stacey’s Mom at him, followed by Who Let The Dogs Out.
The first one makes sense semantically, the second one not so much. I just know we spent a lot of time nailing the barking, ‘woof woof woof woof woof,’ bit.
At worst, I remember an English teacher that got struck by lightening and had to learn to walk again (my memories are very teacher-centric it would seem), crying over a boy in the back of a cab while Duffy’s Warwick Avenue was playing. And finally throwing up from the roof of an open air bus on a work experience trip to Segovia. Hola hangover.
It was also my birthday when we were out there and my pals got me a singing card that said, ‘Te quiero in mantequilla’. That’s Spanish for, ‘I love you in butter’. Who knows.
Everything else is a foggy, unremarkable memory.
My style changes at an alarming pace, so much so I’ll never be able to train long and hard enough to keep up with it, so imagine how quickly we as people are changing, then.
I want to look back and reflect on exactly how I have changed because no matter how much we think we have mastered the art of living as functioning adults, we can never be over-qualified where self-discovery is concerned.
It isn’t like a dissertation. You can’t just bind it, hand it in and never think about it ever again.
I understand the pitfalls of looking back with regret or dwelling on circumstances you can’t change but that’s a different notion. I’m talking about being able to look back at yourself and think, who even was that girl? Can she see me now?
In five years time, we will no doubt look back again and realise how much further we’ve come and how much more life sh*t we’ve miraculously managed to wade through and decode.
We are a work in progress. We are the f*cking Sagrada Familia – forever unfinished and forever working towards a fuller version of ourselves.
Fuller with Popchips, sure, but mostly just fuller with experience and a respect for our own wee journeys.
Shouldn’t we all embrace the past? To look back – if not to learn, then – to celebrate exactly how we’ve gone from blank canvas to mother f*cking masterpiece?
Hell yes, we should.
Love you bye.
Photography by Olivia Foley
Dress: Asos (sold out, similar here)
Shoes: Zara (old, but similar here)