In November of 1992, I was given a journal for my 13th birthday.
I filled it up in four months, then got another. And another. And another. I kept a journal from 1992 until around 2006, when I was 26 years old. Those journals were my security blanket, my therapy, my way to vent.
I kept them all.
Hollyn will be 13 in September, and she is definitely starting to act like a middle schooler/alien being.
I thought it would be fun to compare Hollyn at almost-13 with myself at the same time. I remember myself as being very different from her – bookish and introverted, with a string of not-very-awesome haircuts and an ocean of Deep Thoughts.
So I sat down with my first journal, and read it all the way through. The girl I encountered in it was neither bookish nor deep. In fact, one thought kept repeating in my head, over and over, page after page.
Oh my God I was such an asshat.
I was so angry all the time. This may be because I used the journal when I was upset, but MAN does it leave a bad impression. Also, I wasted most of my ink writing about stupid boys, and wondering why they didn’t like me. I made countless lists – these are the boys I like, these are the clothes I bought for school, these are my friends, these are my enemies.
I wanted to punch my 13-year-old self square in the face.
Anything I would want to know NOW – what classes I enjoyed, what books I was reading, what experiences made an impression – are lost. I only saved the superficial, shallow details.
My journal looks an awful lot like Hollyn’s Instagram feed.
Part of me is too mortified to consider sharing these journals with her. But what I will attempt to share with her is a little perspective. See these lists of people I called my best friends? I can barely remember half of them. I don’t talk to any of them. Without Facebook, they would be totally lost to time. I wrote pages and pages and pages about how I was destined to marry this one boy (or maybe that one, or that one over there – it changed monthly), and how I could never see myself happy with anyone else…. and I grew up to marry a better man than any of them. In fact, it was after I stopped keeping a journal – stopped documenting every hurt instead of addressing them in real life – that I finally met someone I could be my whole self with.
Among all the children, Hollyn is the one most hung up on the past, on the divorce. She’s said things like, “My life didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to.” By which she means, “My life didn’t turn out like I expected it to when I was nine years old.”
Mine didn’t either. Thank God.
I will also try to point out to her that almost no one her age feels like their life is on the right track, whether you have married parents, divorced parents, single parents, or no parents. And clinging to “the way things were supposed to be” is a sure way to miss all the wonderful ways that things ARE.
I hope I can get her to put down her iPod long enough for the message to sink in.