american girl

How the Internet Made Me Miss 1997

Around the tender age of 8, I made a terrible mistake. It seemed like a good idea at the time (don't they all?), but I would soon find out it was one of the worst decisions of my young life.

I brushed the hair of my American Girl doll.

Not in the careful, start-at-the-bottom-and-only-use-the-brush-it-came-with kind of way, but in the I-took-my-paddle-brush-to-it-as-if-it-weren't-made-of-synthetic-hair kind of way. And the poor girl was never the same.


I feel bad for little Samantha. After all, she was used to high society and Victorian class. She had a faux fur hand warmer to go with her winter outfit, for goodness' sake. And in a matter of moments, I turned her into Hermoine, circa The Sorcerer's Stone. (Yes, I just referenced Harry Potter to describe my American Girl. How relevant am I?)

I vowed to never brush the hair of my American Girls ever again. As a result, Josephina and Whatever-I-Named-the-One-I-Created (who, by the way, my non-conformist-self did not design to look like me, as the manufacturers intended, but instead filled the void of the under-represented Asian-American category in the American Girl lineup), never had a hairstyle other than the one they came with out of the box.

The only reason I was reminded of this incident recently is because of the widespread nostalgia taking over the Internet.

I think it has something to do with the fact that all 90's kids are starting to enter the "real world," so we need a little bit of childhood in our lives to supplement the new adulthood. The Internet is here to help. Thanks to Twitter accounts like 90's Girl Problem (LOVE), articles like this and Pinterest, we're all being reminded of the simpler days, when our biggest worry was if our Tomagachi was going to die while it sat in our backpack all day (as they were, of course, banned from use during class) or how to make our Furby shut up (did anyone else regret using hard-earned lemonade stand money to buy one of these?).

I love that no matter where we grew up, we all have similar memories like these. It's like a collective childhood. The friends you have now, who you didn't even know existed when you were 8, totally had a Lisa Frank folder and were Team BSB or N*Sync, too. (Or, for boys, Creepy Crawlers else did boys have in the 90s? Pogs?).

While I absolutely love this trend and am enjoying every minute of the probably-premature nostalgia, I think it can also be a double-edged sword. Constantly longing for the past hinders us from fully enjoying the present or looking forward to the future. I'm as guilty as anyone in this aspect. I'm super nostalgic. I recently read a quote on Facebook (the source of all intelligent and never-misattributed quotes) that said something to the effect of, "If you're always rereading the last chapter, you can't move on to the next." While this is admittedly a bit cheesy, it resonated with me because it's something I've struggled with, particularly since I graduated high school.

During my first couple years of college, I missed high school. My friends, my small town---all of it. Now that I'm in my real-world life, I've started to miss college. I imagine this sequence continues on as you journey through life.

The truth is, we're making memories right now we'll look back on five years from now and call the "good ol' days." So let's resolve to make the most of it and maximize our time right now to make it count. I'm challenging myself as much as you on this---to look back on years past, smile, and keep moving forward, rather than trying to relive or recreate it. There's nothing wrong with a little 90's pop Pandora station now and then (Third Eye Blind is literally playing as I type), but I am going to try to avoid clinging to what has been and enjoy the phase of my life I'm in right now. We're always going to have a tendency to go back to the familiar, because, well, it's familiar. And the future is unknown and scary. But one day it will be our past.