A Complete Lack of Nostalgia

December 11, 2021

An episode of NPR’s Throughline came my way via the Invisibilia podcast this morning and it gave me a realisation. I have a complete lack of childhood nostalgia.

Nothing from my childhood is appealing to me. Life keeps getting better since I left my childhood behind.

As a kid I was bullied, I never felt like I fitted in, I never had friends, and I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. The bullying stopped after high school, but emotionally I carried it inside me for a long, long time. After my first time at University (computer engineering), I travelled through Asia for 9 months, one of the best times of my life, before coming back to Australia, moving to Sydney, and studying Philosophy at a university.

I was much happier then and built a good group of friends. But I still carried a deep unease from my time at high school. It’s only through things I have recently learned, through my son, that things are starting to make sense.

He’s gifted and with high functioning autism (previously called Aspberger’s syndrome). He’s logical, rational, a bit of a geek, and refuses to bow to social conventions to be something he’s not. He’s like a fucking mirror of me as a kid. Luckily we found out early, and have signed him up for some programs on social skills.

I never want him to pretend to be someone he isn’t. I want him to learn how he can be himself, while still having a healthy social life. It’s taken me a long time to learn that can be as simple as not pointing out when someone else is wrong, not believing that others will think the same way as you once you explain things to them, and learning that it’s OK to sometimes do things you don’t want to do if it makes others happy (a bit of meditation helps here).

Hopefully, he can form the childhood memories I never had and develop a nostalgia for his idyllic childhood. Me, I’ll keep looking forwards, and save my nostalgia for my post-high school life.

30 by 30 #5

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Written by Adrian Gray making games in Sydney. Find him on Mastodon or Twitter.