The dynamics that make the college life memorable, life-changing, and just plain unusualare plentiful. There are more all-nighters than most lives will ever see again. There are more peers, friends, and dates than almost any other life stage will bring. There’s homework, drama, breakups, first dates, football games, houses full of guys, houses full of girls, less housework, more ramen noodles, and lots and lots of social decisions. As a college student in the early half of the first decade of the twenty-first century, there was a whole new piece to college life: access to nostalgia.
We were children of pop culture, and now our memories of youth are jam packed full of toys, tv shows, cartoons, movies, songs, and clothing choices (seems more appropriate than “styles”). For the first time in our lives and really for the first generation ever, the memories of childhood started popping up on store shelves. Memories could now be purchased for $30 to $40 on DVD. Shows we loved as kids no longer had to be fuzzy recollections of yore, but instead could be vivid viewing choices of now. Watching Boy Meets World at any given moment had become a reality. Now it was a piece-o’-cake to try to remember exactly how Optimus Prime died in Transformers: the movie. Wasn’t there a kid who would climb a ladder into Clarissa’s room? What was that show with the gnome who was a doctor and rode around on a fox helping those in need, big or small? Was Fergie really on Kids Incorporated? Do I remember Leonardo DiCaprio squaring off with that Mike Seaver character on a sitcom?
The Wonder Years
As we early twenty-first century college students have continued to grow up, the access to nostalgia has become even crazier. YouTube really came along in 2005, changing video forever, and Netflix is flipping the home video world on its head as we speak. This is all to say that Netflix brought a real treat into my life in the last few weeks. The Wonder Years, as previously mentioned, was a lustfully nostalgic desperate desire for my roomies and me in our college days.
As our childhood was returning with each DVD season purchased (It turns out a lot of the shows I loved as a kid were completely stupid, like Voltron. It’s just a patchwork of two Japanese shows into a less gory Americanized version of the Japanese version. Pretty weird and I have no idea how I missed that), we zeroed in on The Wonder Years as THE core of our nostalgic satisfaction. Just think about that show: the youthful angst, the historically significant events, and the beautiful reflection on a simple childhood in a complex time. We wanted that show badly, and we researched regularly in hopes of grabbing it the day it came out. It never did. Apparently there were some licensing issues with the music. I guess if you have great music littering your show it eventually screws you over. It was probably that Beatles song that Joe Cocker redid that became the theme song (“With a Little Help From My Friends”). Great jam. Who knows if it was the culprit (Paul?), but as I noticed a few weeks ago, every single episode of that show is at my fingertips streaming on Netflix. It’s almost too amazing.
I think we all would not only benefit from, but also love the opportunity to narrate our most important youthful moments and dispense the wisdom of our hindsight upon all who would watch (The Wonder Years narrator is Marv the tall Wet Bandit in Home Alone, FYI. Look it up). Reflection is a beautiful thing, but can be personally torturous. We realize our good moments and our bad moments, our dreams found and our dreams lost, things that we have and things that are gone (youth), and as I’ve been rolling through year number 29 I’ve particularly experienced the joys and tortures of reflection.
7 Steps to Knock Out Goals
I’ve taken stock of my life this year. At times it’s thrilling to count my inventory of experiences and at times it’s discouraging to tally the shrinkage between my input of dreams and goals to my output of dreams achieved and goals accomplished. Here’s the deal, the paralysis that comes with the sadness over unaccomplished dreams isn’t valuable moving forward. So here’s my plan:
1. Take Stock: Where am I at? How have I done to this point? What’d I nail? What’d I smash my thumb with the hammer? Where have I completely whiffed?
2. Accept It: This is where I am. Feel the pride. Feel the disappointment. Accept that it’s true.
3. Make a List: Corral all of my dreams and goals. All of them. Easy, medium, hard, totally bananas.
4. Prioritize: What’s first (make it easy)? What’s second? What can I do in a day? What can I only do over time?
5. Focus On ONE and Make It Easy: Get an easy win under my belt. It may involve rearranging the priorities. Feeling success will breed more success through increased confidence and belief in my plan.
6. Move to Number Two: Go get it.
7. Dominate the Next Phase of Life: Okey dokey.
I think we’d all love the opportunity to be Kevin Arnold in his wonder years, sitting back, reflecting on life, dispensing advice, and entertaining in the process. Using our own stories to help others is addicting for all of us, but it’s a lot more enjoyable if we can reflect on our lives and smile at the end. It’s even better if we can smile all the way to the end.