Maybe it’s just me, but I have kept most of my essays and writing since high school. I could have easily thrown them away, and probably should have, but there was a little voice inside my 15 year old head telling me that I might find these significant later in life. The mere fact that this voice was heard through all of the other thoughts of girls and spontaneous erections is a miracle, but perhaps it was destiny.
I knew that I had to be an English teacher when I was a freshman in high school. I used to attribute it to the fact that my English teachers were cool and they “got” me, but in retrospect I have always loved reading and writing. It wasn’t really teaching that interested me, it was sharing cool shit that happens in novels with new audiences every year. Of course, I developed a love for pedagogy as the years went by, but at first I was all about the literature.
I wrote a lot in high school. It was the dawn of the Internet and information was reaching people at record breaking dial-up speeds. This was really of no interest to me at the time. I was all about writing in my journal and writing songs for my band that was sure to become a huge success. A few gentle compliments from a couple English teachers and I thought of myself as the motherfuckin’ literary master of Rosemead High School. So, of course I kept my essays to document my ascension as a writer.
In college I found that the motherfuckin’ literary master had some new challenges. I kept writing. Essays, shitty poems, shittier essays, short stories, and of course journal entries. I didn’t do this as often as I should have. When I go back and read my essays I learn what kind of writer I was back then, but when I read these journal entries I learn what kind of person I was back then. Journals are wonderful windows into the past. They are our narratives and our personal documentaries. They are personal collections of memories, both good and bad, and are often meant for only our eyes. That is something that is lacking in our current world of writing.
Like everything else, journaling has become a social medium from which we share personal stories and reflections. We blog to tell what we think, feel, and want. I doubt that many people keep diaries anymore. Most people don’t want that personal and secret form of therapy. Instead they would prefer to share it with the world.
Don’t get me wrong, this in itself is a blog post. I love that we have become a fearless society that shares personal moments because we know we are not alone. But there is something that is missing. That personal sense of satisfaction and growth that you get from journaling and reflecting.
There is a wonderful documentary on Netflix entitled Mortified. The film chronicles a group that asks normal people to get on a stage and read their diaries from their childhood. This is hilarious.
There are some amazing moments that we find significant in our adolescence that now seem ridiculous. The fact that this film is funny demonstrates the therapeutic nature of diaries. We get it all out because we think it is the end of the world to fart in class when everyone is testing. We read that twenty years later and laugh because we know that life brings forth many more challenges than inconvenient flatulence.