The Nostalgia Conundrum

Hello from somewhere in the air…

2019 has been the year of “homecomings” for me, both personally and professionally. If you’ve spent any time talking to me or have read anything I’ve written, you know that an important part of my journey has been remembering the defining moments of my past as I move forward in life. Personally, before I moved to Seattle, my prominent years were split between two places I called home: Turkey, and the Washington, DC area.

Nostalgia is a huge source of inspiration for me and reconnecting with familiar places opens the floodgates (I have pages and pages of handwritten notes I have yet to convert to essays from my summer trip to Turkey).

When returning home, it can be fun to revisit the places that defined your experiences. When I went back to Turkey, it was an incredible experience to go to the Aegean coast and experience it as an adult. It reignited a passion in me that had been lost for years.

But how important is it to visit every single place where a defining moment took place? Yes, it’s important to acknowledge how far you’ve come, how much you’ve healed, but there’s a line that can cross into traumatizing yourself all over again.

It has been a few years since I’ve been back in Washington, DC. A part of me was all gung-ho about revisiting the neighborhood where I lived before I moved to Seattle. I wanted to walk the streets that saw some of the toughest years of my life to remind myself of my strength, but when the time came, my feet were encased in cement.

Was it really necessary? Did I need to relive the trauma to validate the healing I’ve worked so hard for over the past 7 years?

The answer was no.

Thinking about the way I experience nostalgia in my personal life, I came to the startling conclusion that I’ve been doing the same thing in my professional life in a way that’s been counterproductive.

The reason I was in the Washington, DC area this past week was to speak at a conference. It wasn’t my first time speaking at a conference but it was my first time at this particular conference, which was a homecoming moment because I hadn’t been back since the first time I attended as a consultant years ago. (Funny thing about the passage of time - I kept thinking it was 6 years ago that I attended this conference but my records tell me that it was 2015). Being able to say that I now got to speak at the conference that opened many doors for me professionally was incredible.

But I had to remember to stop myself there.

I don’t know about you but I tend to get stuck in the past.

I refer to milestone projects from years ago, instead of highlighting the accomplishments of today.

If I don’t actively have a present mindset, I let impostor syndrome take over, making me shrink when surrounded by my peers and mentors.

Anyone who was at MarketingProfs B2BForum this year will attest to the fact that there was no shrinking. In addition to my session, I was on camera for 2 different interviews as an industry expert. I had engaging conversations with other experts who I absolutely would consider mentors but I did not just nod along. I interjected with my insights when the conversation called for it.

Nostalgia is not a weakness, unless we get stuck in the comfort zone of the past, never allowing ourselves to move forward when the time comes.

Think of it this way.

How credible would a 2020 trends article be if the most recent piece of data cited was from 2015?

That's my challenge to you this week. Reflect on the way you talk about your accomplishments. Are you still referring to milestones from years ago, completely neglecting the work you've accomplished since then?

Wishing you forward momentum,