Last spring, I received the most terrifying Facebook notification known to man: my friends had liked my first profile picture. It was the quintessential “girl’s first prof pic,” accompanied with, you guessed it, inspirational lyrics as a caption and an excessive amount of embarrassing comments.
Cursing myself for not deleting this picture, I watched helplessly as fresh likes and comments appeared. While the picture now falls under the “only me” privacy setting on Facebook, its resurfacing was a traumatic experience.
This episode prompted me to sift through all of my social media posts pre high school and weed out the ones I deemed unfit for my current image. I was obsessed with trying to forget the “old” me.
Looking back now, deleting my posts was even more obnoxious than the Drake lyrics that went with them. Though it was normal to be embarrassed by what my 14-year-old self thought was important enough to post on Twitter, the obsession I had with presenting myself in the most positive light possible was not.
All too often, we harshly judge our past selves from our present point of view. Instead of embracing the fact that our past actions have shaped us into the people we are today, we attempt to mask our old identities. I sometimes wish I kept my old pictures, just to relish the fact that I’ve come so far since my graphic tee phase.
We need this disappointing, unflattering image of ourselves to grow. I now realize the most embarrassing images of myself are the greatest. Judging my past self in a humorous way has helped me develop the ability to not take myself too seriously, and allow myself to forgive, but certainly not forget: tricolored Nike high tops, I’m talking to you.
While deleting old posts may help cleanse our minds of bad memories, doing so gets rid of good memories, too. We forget the fact that old can be positive. Earlier this month, Adult Swim posted “Too Many Cooks,” a parody of the opening credits of 1980s sitcoms. Its instant popularity revealed the power of nostalgia. Though we satirize the past, we still appreciate it. This is best exemplified by the fact that nothing amuses our parents more than laughing at old photos of their guy friends in short shorts.
When we get hung up on the past, we are only hindering our focus toward the future. There is no doubt that we will regret what we wore or wrote at some point, but the takeaway is to not let your past mistakes define your present self. So, instead of feeling ashamed the next time a Facebook photo circa 2008 resurfaces, rejoice that you no longer wear the mustard yellow skinny jeans you're sporting in it. Or maybe that was just me.