It was easy for me to write my last column of the school year a few weeks ago. I said some pithy things and some petty things and I wrapped it all up with a hypothetical memory that had both my mother and my sister crying when I read it to them in my apartment. Then I took my exams, checked my grades, cried a little over the lack of any kind of “A” and drank beers on the beach.
I’d written my last column of the year but that didn’t mean that my thoughts had stopped or that my too-young-to-be-wise and too-old-to-be-ignored opinions had gone anywhere. I still want to write and reaffirm that there are–in fact, some things I know for sure.
Composing pieces of myself on the internet is a fascinating concept. Sure I “write” by typing. I have for years. I write on Facebook and Twitter. My columns are online. But those columns are edited by at least four people before they hit the presses. Those posts online are short and silly and I can excuse regrettable ones by simply throwing out the words “friends” and “hacked.”
Several people have complimented me on the inherent truths of relatable writing that my columns present: write what you know, reveal yourself, don’t keep any secrets. I can do all of those things because I know that at least two people will call me and tell me they liked what I wrote. At least two people will comment on my comments and tell me that I am funny. But everyone blogs; I feel like putting myself on the internet in a how-hipster-is-it-that-I’m-blogging-world is far more frightening than writing to a student body of whom maybe 20 people read what I have to say.
But I’ll do it anyway. I’ve kept a journal since I was 15 years old. It’s not even a journal; it’s a hard shelled orange notebook that I should have used for school but instead scribbled in lists of SAT words which eventually turned into sentences which turned into entries which turned into the most valuable aspect of my teenage existence. Once I filled that notebook I moved on to a leather notebook that I picked, after half an hour of deliberation, from a shelf in Barnes and Noble. Until I entered my first year college dorm I wrote in that leather notebook.
Sometimes I wrote everyday. Sometimes I wrote once a month. I usually wrote when I was sad. When you’re happy there’s nothing interesting to say. Occasionally I’d type entries in my laptop. That’s all I do now. Hand writing takes time and for the past two years I’ve liked to pretend that I was far too busy to check in with my 15 year old, 16 year old, 17 year old selves.
I always thought that one day I would publish those journals and have the wittiest most popular memoir that the NY Times Bestseller List had ever seen. But I won’t. There’s nothing “fascinating” about a teenage girl’s trials and errors. I hold those two notebooks close to my chest and wish them into me–so that my heart and brain can figure out what to do with all those almost-lessons. Those are things that do not need to be shared. Who else could I help with all the sentences that start with “I” and end with “don’t know”?
I can share this. Like I share my columns, I can share my everydays with people who might want to check in. When I was 15 I named my orange notebook “Chagrin” because I was embarrassed that I was keeping what most people called a “diary.” I’m still ashamed of a lot of things I do and fail to do. But writing about myself is no longer one of them.