It is a tuesday* today, and I am writing this
I’ve kept a diary since 2007. Whenever anyone mentions the year 2007, I think about my diary. I had turned 13 in May of that year, and like a perfect example of a cliche in human form, not only did I become what was known as an ’emo’, but I also started a teenage diary.
It was everything you’d expect a teenage diary to be, complete with ‘KEEP OUT’ and a message on the first page stating clearly that the last person to read my diary was now, sadly, residing somewhere underneath a gravestone. I didn’t put it as nicely as that but you get the gist.
The reason I started a diary? Summer boredom. And I’d never been able to keep a diary before. I’d tried then stopped a few times, and just figured I was someone who was never destined to be a diarist. But the combination of being a bored teenager and discovering the colour black (along with ‘alternative’ music) meant that I didn’t write the diary for the sake of it, I wrote the diary to express all this newfound angst. It was somewhere for me to be unnecessarily angry at nothing, it was somewhere for me to write ‘ I ❤ MCR’, and to stick numerous images of the band, and other things I liked, in the pages. It was me saying ‘this is who I am right now, and these are the things I think are cool.’
I do cringe reading my early diaries, but find me a teenage diary that isn’t embarrassing! It’s the default setting, and I sometimes wonder what people would think if they read my diaries, but I’ve got to a point where it wouldn’t really matter. I was still figuring myself out, and the diary was my outlet for that. It was also, whether I realised it at the time or not, a snapshot into what it was like being a teenager in 2007. Cause I can tell you now it’s very different to what being a teenager is like today.
It was a good time to be that age, and to be ’emo’. Okay, so I hated everything and everything hated me, but I felt like a part of something. Looking back, being someone who was part of that makes me feel better about the fact I wrote diaries about it all. That era is looked back on fondly by the people who were living it, and yeah I was super uncool in school, but I’m retrospectively cool now. My early diaries could literally become internet memes about the ’emo era’ and I’m weirdly proud of that.
Every so often I look through my old diaries. I used to be left with feelings of regret and would add little notes on the pages saying things like ‘no!! I didn’t mean that!’ and ‘I’m not this person anymore!’ because I imagined some future reader being immersed in them and disliking me so much they wouldn’t bother to continue. I had to give them a bit of hope for the person I would become, right?
But more recently, when I read back my diaries I see something which I didn’t know was happening at the time. Keeping a diary might have felt like a pointless exercise, but through the course of my diaries I can see the person I am today developing. The questions I asked; the things I wondered about; the stuff I was feeling but didn’t know what it meant, they have all stayed with me in some form or another, and have accumulated to create present-day me.
I wrote a poem about this a few months ago, simply titled ‘Diary’. I wrote it because it occurred to me that discovering that everything I was writing in the past meant something, and wasn’t just a teenage phase, was really important. I felt better about myself now, and even though I don’t need anyone (least of all my past self) to tell me that I am a valid human being, it was still a massive reassurance to find threads and breadcrumbs of who I am now scattered in my past. I’m still figuring a lot of things out now, but I’m a lot further along in the journey than I was then.
My current diary means something different now. It’s not a cringy teenage saga, it’s more a record of the time I’m living in, and the way life is progressing now. It’s still someone to talk to, but with less upset and more reflection. I have a better awareness of who I am and who I want to be. But one day, years into the future I’ll look back on today’s words and remember what it felt like to be there.
Life changes all the time. It changes daily. A diary can sometimes seem like a waste of time (‘don’t write about living, go out and live!’), but it’s not. It’s something to treasure, and in this era of online existence, it’s something real and tangible. I can hold it, I can turn the pages rather than scroll through my Instagram profile. My diary is honest. I tell it things I’d like to one day tell other people. I tell it things I’d never dare admit to other people. My diary knows me better than anyone, and it doesn’t rely on the likes and approval of others to be valid in its existence.
I’d love to be more like my diary.
*It was a Tuesday at the time of writing, I can’t remember which particular Tuesday though. Today, just about to publish this post, the day is Wednesday. This note is here to ensure you don’t get your days mixed up. Unless of course you’re reading this on a Friday in which case, who knows where any of us are right now?