What I've learnt looking back at my 90s self

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The drive to learn, to be moved by music and art, can get lost in the sheer terror of being a functioning adult

Ah the 90s. Let’s state the obvious. We were all much younger then.

I have to admit, though, I was a little wary about spending an entire month looking back to a decade where I personally was so, so very green about life and love and music and the world.

Nostalgia doesn’t always have to be about giving up on the new. It can help you understand who you are now. Looking back to look forward.

Myf Warhurst

Having spent the past month having the decade writ large in front of me, I’ve laughed a lot.

At little old 90s me in my button up Levi 501 jeans, my many really bad haircuts, countless pairs of terrible sunnies and some questionable and very earnest musical choices. And it’s actually been a whole lot of fun.

After this month, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the decade. I feel pretty lucky to have developed into what would become a fully-formed human during that time.

Mainly because there were so many musical firsts. While other decades gave us the huge and obvious musical movements like rock’n’roll, metal, disco, hip hop and punk, the 90s gave us many other brand new musical movements that changed the landscape forever and repercussions have been felt ever since.

The impact of grunge was huge in the 90s, and it sometimes overshadows other musical forms that were bubbling away and breaking new ground as they built on what came before.

Think trip hop – and all those late nights and early mornings spent climbing the walls to their sounds emanating from the stereo speakers – and the explosion of hip hop and dance music in all its many and varied forms.  

Another great thing that came out of the decade was the growth of Australia’s own cultural identity. Historically, we have long been taught to look outward for our musical heroes.

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Myf in the 90s

But in the 90s, Australians started to treat our own as just as important, if not more so.

This has had an ongoing effect on changing the cultural landscape and I hope helped dismantle long held ideas of cultural cringe.

I’ll be honest, celebrating the 90s hasn’t all been smooth sailing.  While most of the music still sounds great, I’m a little wary of too much nostalgia.

Sure, it’s a lovely, comforting, warm blanket, but you can have too much of a good thing.

But this month I learned that nostalgia is much more than that. Nostalgia doesn’t always have to be about giving up on the new and sticking with what you know.

It can help you understand who you are now. Looking back to look forward. 

The month forced to come face to face with wide-eyed, young me. What struck me about that kid was that I had a healthy anticipation for the future. I knew nothing, but wanted to learn everything.

I realised that sometimes that drive to learn, to be moved by music and art, to breathe it all in, can get lost when your passion becomes your career, or you get bogged down with jobs and life and the sheer terror of being a functioning adult.

So, if anything, this month of 90s reflection has urged me to rekindle some of the spirit of that wide-eyed kid.

I’m still dressing just as badly and acting like a fool – that will never change – but this month has forced me to embrace the future with anticipation.

The 90s was a time when life came with no full stops. And that shouldn’t change, regardless of age. 

So, as I close the door on the 90s, I plan to pack that little bit of 90s spirit into a tiny leather backpack and walk boldly into the future. You wanna join me?

Catch up on all of the 90s themed feature articles, countdowns and special programs that took over Double J through June right here

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