I was in third grade when I was given my first diary. It was fuzzy, purple and equipped with a lock and key, of course. There was some serious top secret information in there, as I'm sure you can imagine, like what boy I had a crush on and what I ate for lunch that day and who I ate it with. These things were not to be taken lightly!
This fabulous and girly diary was to be the first of many more to come but the last to have more hair than my cat and resemble the color of Barney the dinosaur.
I also grew out of writing in my diary by the 6th grade and moved onto journaling because I was obviously much too sophisticated and mature for that kiddy-stuff at the ripe old age of twelve. I am just glad I never grew out of the habit of recording my thoughts onto pages.
No matter how frivolous they may have seemed, they were real and, for a moment in my life, they were everything.
I was feeling extra nostalgic last week (which I'm finding is more common with every additional birthday candle I blow out) and decided to go through my old box of journals. It had literally been years since I had cracked open the pages of these bad boys and my expectations for anything innovative were pretty low.
I figured I was about to read a lot about friends I hadn't seen in forever, clothes that no longer fit and boys that I couldn't give a crap less about. Sure enough, all of those things were in there but that wasn't all that was filling space on the pages. The one thing I spent more time writing about more than friends, my parents or boys was fear.
Almost every page contained several sentences that began with the words I am so scared, I can't or I'm afraid to. I could practically feel the pages tremble with the amount fear that was bound in them. What was worse is that the hands that wrote down these old thoughts were still currently trembling over some of the same fears.
Damn. Am I still that scared little girl? What was I so afraid of?
Apparently everything according to the old journals. I had decided that I was fat by the age of twelve, undesirable by thirteen and untalented by fourteen. You would have thought that my worst enemy was responsible for some of the entries but, sadly, the hate was coming directly from myself. According to yours truly, I was destined for a thigh-rubbing and hopeless journey of unending failures in life. Way to go, me!
I decided to grab my current journal and bring it to the pile of adolescence I had rediscovered. My hope was that it's pages would teach these assholes a lesson. And, thank God, they did.
Fear is still very much discussed in the pages of my journal now but it is, more often than not, combated by hope in the very next or the same breath of ink. There is still talk of improvements that I hope my body will make but there is also praise for it's strength and endurance thus far. And the love that I searched for and scribbled about the most was no longer about greasy teenage boys, but rather the one I had finally found for myself.
Don't get me wrong, there are still quite a few entries that come from shitty days that talk about what I hate and how much I hate the word hate and how I hate that I still use the word hate and so on and so on. What's different about these entries of self-pity opposed to the old ones is not that they are fewer, but that they are challenged. Instead of ending with a sense of hopelessness, they are met with a call to action.
It's a new rule that has been introduced to my writing: Confess your fears, express your emotions but declare the possible solutions. And, yes, even when you don't feel like it. In fact, especially when you don't feel like it.
There was one very important sentence that was missing at the end of all those entries from that fear-filled girl, and it came in the form of this question: So, what are you going to do about it?
In this edition of Things I've Learned Thursday, I have learned the art of doing something about it. That 'it' can be anything that is standing in my way of hope and creating fear. If I'm not happy, griping about it in a journal won't change anything, but writing down what I can change in the purple, furry diary of my heart might just be a great place to start.
When I first looked at the pile of my old journals sprawled out on the floor, I saw the broken pieces of my girlhood dreams and felt weakened by my former despair. But after each one I read, I placed it in a stack beside me. One by one, the fragile pages made a heap that didn't look so fragile anymore.
Before I placed my final journal at the top, I sat back and stared at the jagged little pile that personified my life so far. It made me fearful. But no longer for myself.
It made fearful for anyone that tried to knock down that uneven tower. Because falling apart is not only what builds it higher, but what has always kept it together.