I’ve been journaling since I was 15-16. At first, mostly through Livejournal, but eventually I graduated into hardcover journals purchased from B&N.
I barely remember what I wrote about back then. My journals were probably filled with angst – between having no friends in high school, nursing a crush on someone who only saw me as a friend, and a home life that seemed to get worse every year – I can’t imagine having written much else. I do remember, though, typing furiously in all caps (bold and in underline) about how pissed my cousin had made me. Though the details remain fuzzy, I can still easily recall how angry I became as tears burned at my eyes. I found solace in my friend’s comments, reassuring me. For a moment, everything felt better.
And now, all my journals sit at my mom’s house in a giant cardboard box, chronicling my misery from adolescence into something resembling [young] adulthood. Whenever I read about women having burned all their old journals, for a moment I consider doing the same. Why do I keep them? What real purpose do they serve? Then just as easily as the thought appears, it vanishes, and I think back to the journal I bought in 12th grade. It had been the first (and last) journal I bought that had no lines, just blank pages. Immediately I thought of all the art I could fill it with, drawing little pictures as I attempted to improve my craft. Instead, I had a well-known artist in our high school draw a picture for me – a portraiture of our creative writing teacher – and it helped that I had a crush on them both.
Then there’s my pink, leather journal from my freshmen year of university. Due to a culmination of bad habits from school (like doing homework the morning it was due), spending an inordinate amount of time trying to craft dead end friendships and having no emotional prep for college – my first year was beyond depressing. Nothing seemed to work out as I wanted, including my first (and last) feeble attempt at creating a romantic relationship that erupted into the boy in question cursing me out randomly, and basically treating me like shit. I remember stumbling upon a wonderful essay by Megan McCafferty – a writer I had grown to love in high school – where she writes about wanting to transfer out of her school and into Columbia. At my dad’s house over Christmas break, I printed out this essay and taped it to the inside of my pink, leather journal. To this day, this essay is there, at one point giving me hope that I wasn’t alone in wanting to leave my school (which I did) and giving me the courage to actually do it.
As time went on, I tried to turn my journals into true keepsakes by taping in ticket stubs from films I saw, or museums I visited. When I studied abroad in Paris, I tried to keep a traveling journal over my two week spring-break vacation. Little did I know that many of the pieces I had taped would have their ink fade away, totally unrecognizable now. Only slightly do I regret this, as I plan on going back abroad to recapture many of those moments I lost because I was too lazy to pick up a pen and write down what I did that day.
Now I still journal. In fact, my current one has the Eiffel Tower on it, and is sprinkled with some of the iconic buildings in Paris. Maybe I’ll journal a little bit tomorrow.