Why teens get very nostalgic when they start college

Wooff asks: As of recent times, I’ve been in a state of mind where I miss things from my past a lot. How they used to be 3 years ago, who I was friends with and maybe even the person I was. I don’t regret turning the way I did but back then I feel like life was somewhat easier. I didn’t have to study my butt off for anything. People liked me more and I didn’t have much worries. I don’t even know what I want to do when I’m older. I’m 18 right now and I have around 2-3 years to figure that out. But I’m going to have to select something to study in 2 years. And I have no clue. I was wondering, am I better off careless, clueless and happy or am I better off wiser, older and more understanding? I know you’re going to say that the latter is better but I feel like when I was more unaware of everything, I was somewhat happier. I used to have something to be excited or happy about but now it’s like I don’t know, I’m not unhappy but I’m never really that happy or excited. Things seemed more magical back then and despite the fact that I have so much more responsibilities now, I feel like I had more things to do when I was younger. Things I enjoyed even if they were just mere chores. I know at this point I’m rambling but I just need someone to walk me through this particular stage of being human. I know how I feel right now isn’t my final destination and that I need to feel like this for something better to form. But I just need some more insight as to what I should do or if I’m even supposed to feel all this that I’m feeling. I act like I don’t regret my decisions but if I’m being honest, I’ll tell you the truth. I wish I did make other choices back then. I wish I listened to myself and didn’t listen to myself. I miss my friends from back then but these friends are not the same people they once were and while we are in friendly terms, it’s not the same. I wish I never let go of that boy I liked back then. I wish I had someone to talk to right after I came back from school. Do you know anyway Shirelle I could get back that happiness and excitement in my life? Everything seems so bland now. And I never get excited. I used to talk to my crush and that meant so much to me and now I can’t even like someone. I just feel a bit lost but not lost, you know? If you have any idea what I’m talking about please let me know because I’m just so clueless. I’m not depressed, sad or anything.

Hi Wooff –



I always love your letters – they’re so beautifully written and expressive. And say things that are so right about life.


But in this one, you got something wrong. Really wrong. SO wrong!


You said you were sure that I’d say you’re better off “wiser, older and more understanding” than you were “careless, clueless and happy.” Now maybe your parents might say you are, or a counselor at your school. But you’re forgetting what and who I am! I find meaning in my life by leaping into a creek just for the joy of running, and then jumping onto strangers and getting mud all over their nice clothes. My idea of pure joy is chasing birds I have no hope of catching, but trying with everything I’ve got. And my idea of love is getting into a wrestling match with Handsome, where we’re both growling, fighting, and giving kisses to each other the whole time. I love “careless, clueless, and happy.” About 23 hours a day, that’s exactly what I am!


But you are a human, with that gigantic brain, and nothing is ever going to be as simple for you as it is for me.


Speaking of your brain, let me help you first by explaining something about one area. When a human is in their teen years, their brain actually experiences more joy (and misery) at little things than at any later time in their life. Those songs you heard when you were twelve will always be the brightest, sexiest, most romantic you ever hear, because your brain was that age when it heard them. The way your friends made you laugh till you had to change your underwear – that’ll never be as frequent again. The crazy mad crush you had at thirteen – you’ll always be a little bit in love with that person; it’s just a part of your brain.


But am I saying you’ll never get as much pleasure ever again? No way, I’d never say that! But things will have to be actually better for you to feel that way about them. You’ll hear an absolutely brilliant song performed so beautifully it brings tears to your eyes, and it will thrill you just as much some mediocre pop tune did when you were in seventh grade. You’ll hear a truly hilarious joke, told by someone with brilliant timing, and laugh as hard as you did twenty times a day back then. And you’ll fall in love with someone so wonderful they actually deserve your crazy wild feelings for them.


And right now, you’re not getting any of those. And that’s a drag.


So how do you get them? Well, the first thing I suggest is that you get rid of that mindset that you should be either “wiser and older” or “careless and happy.” What about being both? At the same time?!


Let’s say you write a letter to an old friend. But instead of just talking about how fun things were back in the day, you try to put all your wisdom and your writing talent into expressing how great things were. So instead of saying “I always had fun hanging out with our group of girls,” you say “Remember when Myrna saw that boy she loved and threw up? Or when Maria told us that teacher was an ass, not realizing the teacher was right behind her? Or Sofia at that dance?!!!” And laugh again. Because those things are still just that funny.


But your main job is to find things that excite you. And they might not – probably won’t – be the same things that excited you back then. Because you are older and wiser. So maybe a political issue will get you as passionate now as some funny gossip did back then. Or you’ll get as enraptured by someone’s mind as you were by the way their hair hung over their eyes then.


You’re not exactly old, Wooff! I’ve known dogs who’ve lived to be older than you (in actual years)! But you are growing, and maturing, and developing. And becoming the amazing adult you’ve always had the potential to be.


What I want is for you, as you discover who that adult is, to make sure you don’t lose your passion and your play. So many people do, and then they get crazy in their 40’s and 50’s trying to find it again. I’m hoping you find ways to be careless and clueless and happy WITHIN the mature things you want to do. To live your new life with joy and silliness and creativity and love.


And as far as the fact that you don’t know yet what you’d want to do, or devote yourself to? Well, what do you think I do when I’m in a place and don’t know what I want? I sniff around! I listen, I check everything out. And I keep doing it till I find something interesting.


In other words, my playful passion becomes devoted to my search for something to be playfully passionate about!


So can you do that? Can you come up with twenty activities you could do to help search for excitement? What about going to your school library, walking through the stacks, taking ten random books (not even looking to see what they are) off the shelves from different locations, and sitting down to see what they’re about and if there’s anything you’d find interesting in each? I’m betting that, if you opened your mind up to them, you’d find things in at least a few of them.


What about going to school parties you otherwise wouldn’t, and trying to make some new friends? They don’t have to become your new besties, just people with different interests and backgrounds, who might open up some new worlds for you.


What about volunteering, or just taking an hour to walk around the campus and see what’s new and interesting?


There are endless possibilities, Wooff! The trick is just to change the way you look at them, from “I’m not interested in anything and might never be again” to “Nothing is interesting me today, so I need to find something new!”


It really is a choice. And I can tell you, from the bottom of my heart, one choice is a lot more fun.


Thanks again for your letter. Now get out there and change your life!


And the world!


Lots of love,






About the Author

Leave a Reply 0 comments

Leave a Reply: