Your future and your past are defining features inside of you that throughout your life will struggle and strive to coexist with one another. The question is quite a controversial one, however, not a new topic. This is the idea of whether or not it truly is a good idea to leave where your from in the past. The two sides to this argument are quite clear. Is it better to let go of your past and live in the now, or is it important to always remember where you’ve come from?

This theme has been thoroughly discussed and as been incorporated into novel plots as well as being the center of their own informative articles. An example of the usage of this theme in literature can be seen in the book Shanghai Girls  by Lisa See. Shanghai Girls is a story that follows two Shanghai native women as they make the journey into America to start their new lives as wives to a pair of wealthy brothers. Throughout the novel, the protagonist Pearl and her younger sister May are consistently burdened with the idea of changing their culture to appease the Angel Island issues who detain them and the ever pressing assimilation process expected of them by their new families. Lisa See uses this topic in slightly different way further into the story. Instead of using physical objects so commonly associated with past, Lisa See uses a person to represent what holds her characters to Shanghai. Divided into three parts, the second and third sections of Shanghai Girls focuses on this ever growing rift between the two protagonists caused by lies and betrayal. Pearl is faced with the difficult decisions as to if she can forgive her sister after a series of lies unfold. Due to being in a foreign land, the letting go of her sister symbolizes the complete severing of Pearl from her homeland and past.

Other articles also explore the topic of the battle between past, present, and future. Leave your Past Behind and Set yourself Free makes its point very clear with the title itself. In the article it explores the idea that your past and the emotions that came with it hold you back, limit you, and keep you from achieving your current goals. They also go on to say that “once you have dealt with them, as best you can, you must move on and leave your past behind.” (Buckley,1).

Other articles like The Truth About Remembering Who You Are And Where You Came From, suggests that when you don’t recount where you’ve come from, you begin to alter and assimilate into a new culture and are no longer tied to your morals. However, this is often without success, for “sometimes being in the wrong place brings us closer to the right one, it brings us closer to home and it brings us closer to the person we’re trying to be.” (Naim, 1 ). Claiming that the past is always inside of you, it is just not always being touched.

In conclusion, the idea that the past must stay in the past is a well covered issue and is often viewed varyingly by different people. Those who choose to embrace their past often find strength within it. Opposingly, those who decide to live fully in the moment, no longer feel a sense of restraint from past experiences.



Buckley, Carthage. “Leave Your Past behind and Set Yourself Free.”, 17 Aug. 2018,


Goldsmith, Barton. “Leaving Your Past Behind.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2018.

Jones, Kiana. “8 Reasons To Leave The Past In The Past.” The Odyssey Online, 30 Aug. 2017,

Naim , Rania. “The Truth About Remembering Who You Are And Where You Came From.” Thought Catalog, 26 Oct. 2016,

The Truth About Remembering Who You Are And Where You Came From

See, Lisa. Shanghai Girls: a Novel. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2010.

Photo from youth voices media library.


CC BY-SA 4.0 Can Your Past Exist in Your Present? by Bailey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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