Lost in Present: When the past won’t leave you and the future won’t let you live

7 Min Read

Anindya Arif, Ashfiqur Rahman Ratul

In modern society, there is a certain lifestyle that a lot of us seem to pursue, commonly referred to in this article as “living in the present”. We seem to have moved far from the past ideals of working for a more secure future, and made an effort to forsake our past since it only serves to increasingly depress us, and instead we try to completely devote ourselves towards living in the present. This shift in lifestyle comes from the idea of “it’s now or never” being hammered into our heads over the greater part of the past two decades by almost every mainstream pop-culture figure. Even though arguments like how this way we use more of our time doing things we actually love, and will not suffer from constant anxiety and stress by worrying about the future, do exist, in reality we find that all of us are constantly chasing some kind of crisis or climax, every day and every moment.

Many of us misinterpret the momentary highs of living in the present as some kind of purpose where we have to experience every day to the fullest. This eventually leads to a loop of constantly trying to find the next thing to enjoy, with no visible end in sight. We find ourselves becoming depressed and jaded with life, alienating everything in life that makes us sad or miserable and doing everything in our power to shut off negative feelings. Slowly this jadedness takes over our lives, and everything we used to once enjoy we now find insufferable. We keep moving from one vice to the other but the enjoyment derived from them remains short lived, which in turn leads to us to fall into a slump, where we desperately try to learn to live again but in reality, we have forgotten how to feel.


The whole idea of living for the future is constructed on hope, and the complete desolation of the idea of having a future to look forward to leaves us feeling increasingly hopeless, leading to a downward spiral of depression. We find ourselves lost and confused, unable to even determine where the problem itself lies. Since our future is an important precondition for hope itself, a goal that a person works towards day and night, without it, life becomes invalid and empty.

Another key issue of being infatuated with the present is that people often cut out anyone who shows negative emotions or don’t comply with their life’s ideology. Soon, they start to lose contact with all of their meaningful relations in life resulting in an inevitable void of unfulfillment and loneliness.

In the past, our forefathers maintained a rigid philosophy regarding a secured future, for which a majority of them spent their lives behind uninteresting but well-paid jobs. This has had a direct hand in this resurgence for creative freedom and independence. With a secure future already ensured by our parents and a lack of financial worry, more and more of us are undertaking the “You Only Live Once” lifestyle. The actual essence of that philosophy somehow became misinterpreted and we have forgotten how to live beyond the present times. We have become perpetuated with pleasures readily available to us, to the point where this is all that we are living for, which cannot be a viable way to live. 

Through such borrowed ideals like this, we deluded a generation into living in some narrative style where they went from confusing happiness with success, to confusing happiness with their current high. We’ve guided them towards taking the easier routes in life and taking everything on face value. 

By now, we have tabooed the idea of dwelling on the past and anyone who even for a moment is caught being hungover on their past doings is looked down upon and ridiculed.  Between pretending our past does not exist and suppressing trauma, most of us have forgotten the difference between being depressed with our past and refusing to acknowledge our past itself, pandering to this distorted philosophy where the past does not even exist in our world. What we often do not realise is that our past in reality, is an asset and pursuing this broken line of thought and discarding the past entirely rather than coming into terms with it is toxic and unhealthy. This ignorant behaviour then leads to considering everyone around us expendable, more people will always arrive, the general demeanour of “I don’t need you in my life”, eventually resulting in “I don’t need anyone in my life”, and finding ourselves unable to form a single meaningful relationship anymore. All due to us refusing to recognise the importance of our own pasts. Eventually leading to us feeling lonelier and more jaded, and angrier and angrier at the world itself. This soon results in a cycle of self-hatred and repeating the same mistakes over and over again, getting tunnel-visioned into the present, and by doing so making a conscious and subconscious effort in letting go of everything mere seconds after it happens. 

To conclude, the redundant ideology of life having no meaning is generated by living in such a way that every moment is spent chasing after one pleasure to the next without even taking the time to experience them fully. Even if for a second living in the present might seem like the right thing, in the long run everything left behind and not done, catches up. Life at face value may look pointless, but we are the ones giving it meaning.


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