Diaries–A Retrospective

I’ve been rearranging my rapidly growing book collection. I’ve been tossing out things so old I can just no longer read them, making lists of books to buy, and, my favorite, creating a pile of books to donate. And I ran across some of my diaries from middle and high school.

As I am wont to do, I managed to get completely sidetracked. I began to flip through what was my FAVORITE diary at the time (a really cool Lisa Frank number with polar bears on it) and started to read. This diary was from high school, started right when I moved to Florida and I was just MISERABLE, y’all. I had no idea that I had an accent (and we’re talking full-on Southern lilt, y’all) and the kids just jumped all over it. Nelly’s Country Grammar was in heavy rotation on the airwaves, and for the first few months I was there, Country Grammar, or, perhaps even more affectionately, “Big Country”, was my nickname.

Charming, ain’t it?

Well, I continued to read, and I ran across an entry I must have written when I was having just an AWFUL day, because at the end of the entry, I’d written a prayer of sorts:

God, if you love me, why don’t you just take away this accent, and make me skinny? I’m tired of being picked on, I’m tired of people making jokes that aren’t funny. God, please, make me normal.

Sophomore year was a booger, folks.

Well, I closed that diary and picked up a smaller white striped one with hearts. I remembered that diary as one I bought during the Scholastic Book Fair (remember those?) This one was from my last year of elementary school (6th grade for me) through freshman year of high school. I realized the FashionableNerd in the Lisa Frank diary was slightly less miserable than the FashionableNerd in the Scholastic diary. Oh, I chatted about my teachers and my friends, I wrote countless entries on the various diets I tried and how my family members tried to bribe me into losing weight, but the connective tissue was the plea for somebody, anybody, to make me NORMAL.

What strikes me about my diaries is that I just don’t remember being so sad. Oh, I might mention to friends, as we spoke of our childhoods, about being unhappy with my body, but I never went into depth about the hurt I was obviously experiencing as a child. Perhaps, with the blinders that hindsight can place on one’s eyes, I simply rewrote history a bit. I tweaked it to make it sound like I’d never been picked on, harassed, or ridiculed. Maybe I wanted folks to think the strong, no-nonsense persona I developed in college had always been there. Maybe I just didn’t want to remember it. I’m not sure. Goodness knows that as I read the entries I remembered each event, and I remembered and experienced the hurt with the 12 year old me. I wish I could give 13 year old me a hug and tell her that a boyfriend isn’t going to make her happy with herself. I’ve spoken at length before about what I’d say to 14 year old me.

The last diary I found was one I kept in college. In one of the entries, dated right before I graduated, I wrote:

As my graduation day rapidly approaches, I get ready to finish another chapter in my life. I’m sure I whined extensively in this diary, as I’m sure I did when I was younger. But, you know, I’ve realized something. In the future, everything I’ve considered to be serious or situations I’ve deemed make-or-break won’t even be important when I reread this.

Well, I have to disagree with myself. All the issues I’ve had, all the situations I’ve gone through have all been important. I realize how my past has shaped me. I realize how important every tear I shed during the writing was–it was my outlet; my coping mechanism. And every time I take the time to read through my old entries, I see just how far I’ve come in terms of mental strength. Because now, I finally understand that I AM normal. Everyone has different versions of normal, and this normal? My looks, my personality, all of it–is MY normal. And I’ve learned to own it.

So, I put the diaries in a Rubbermaid container and slid it under my bed. Sometimes the past is hard to remember, but even when it’s rough, it is not always¬†something one should forget.

5 Responses to “Diaries–A Retrospective”

  1. 1 April D
    September 23, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Beautiful post. It IS good to remember the good that has shaped us; the good and the bad both. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. September 23, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Reading my old journals evokes a cascade of emotions and memories. Like you, I doubted that anything I did in middle school or high school would matter. It did – just not in the ways I expected.

  3. September 26, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Lisa Frank and Scholastic Book Fairs? Wow, that takes me back…
    Whenever I go home, I read my old journals. The things I wrote back then were either hilarious or heartbreakingly sad.

  4. October 15, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I SOOOOO remember the book fairs!!! My FAVORITE day in elementary school.

    I read my old stuff too. I keep them all in the drawers of one of my night stand with teh intention of transcribing, editing and putting together some sort of anthology about childhood/teenage angst.

    I’m glad that you were able to witness your growth. I’ll have to holla at cha if I ever put that anthology together.


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