Thursday, October 20, 2005

Journaling: A Lost Art Form

I was in the shower, thinking and washing (it's where I do all my good thinking), and as my mind darted from thought to thought (there were many for tonight), it eventually settled on a particularly disturbing blog entry I'd read earlier.

Hers was a random blog that I happened upon, and basically followed the adolescent angst-ridden patter of "I [expletive] hate my [expletive] parents. They're ruining my [expletive] life and I want to [expletive] die. Thank God for my boyfriend."

Ah, there are so many dangerous things in that small entry, but that's besides the point. The point is, she was probably all of 16 years old.

I have kept a written diary ever since I was 7 years old. My first entry read something like this:

"Dear Diary,
Today is Christmas. Santa came and brought us lots of stuff. I got:
A ring, an Etch-O-Sketch, a Lite Brite, Connect Four, some clothes, (etc.), oh, and I got YOU! (yes, i talked to my diary). I need to figure out a name so I can stop calling you "You"!" (My diary went through SEVERAL names).

Hey, I was only 7.

But as I grew older, I documented every single event of significance that occurred. From fights with and between my parents, to confessions of childhood naughty business, to our move from one small town to another--it was all in the pages of my blue diary (complete with lock and key).

Later, as I grew older and filled up the pages of Diary #1, I began to write about more mature (for my age, ahem) events. Words like "I love Anthony Pruske" and "Why do I have to look so ugly" covered the back and front of the now spiral-bound, more sophisticated journal. It was here I penned entries about how much my parents just didn't get me, friends who had wronged me, and crushes who had, well, crushed me.

Advancing in age, I graduated to an even more sophisticated journal that had something like "...for the insomniac" on the cover, which was very fitting at the time. I journeyed into high school, and because I was simply too cool to write, there isn't much documented about those 4 years. Just as well, cheerleading and the few friends I still am close with were the only good things that came out of it.

Second semester of Senior year had me begin a new journal, one just for Holly. It was there I would write to her, cry for her, mourn for her, yell at her, and laugh with her. That one never really got filled up.

Next journal was all about the first years of college and an ex-boyfriend, my first SUPER serious one. Fights and sweet gestures were written merely pages from one another, and I often go back and read about how stupid I was to fight with him about such nonsense (or, how I STILL feel I was right about that ONE argument...)

Once forth journal was filled, #5 tracked Apartment Life and Love Triangles. Among other things that are better left unsaid.

And I have been stuck on #6 for a while now. I had concluded that my busy schedule simply did not permit me time to write. With Grad school, work, practicum, and Comprehensives staring me square in the face, I hadn't time to sit down and write about how stressed I was, because the amount of time I spent jotting down my stresses would have caused more anxiety! ("Journaling!!! Lanette, you idiot. You have a paper due on EMDR in 4 hours! AND YOU HAVEN'T STARTED YET!").

I have always found writing to be extremely therapeutic. But do you want to know the biggest reason why I kept it up (well, as I reached a level of cognitive development that could spawn such a reasoning)? I want to be able to show my kids one day that YES, I (Mom, the uncoolest person in the world) DID in fact suffer the trials and tribulations you are agonizing over right now. (I'm preparing my arguments now, always be one step ahead, I figure.)

It was then I turned to online journaling. I started solidly (I had a few failed attempts at a blog) with a LiveJournal. It was very convenient, this online stuff. I could update whenever I was at a computer, which gave me easy access considering I was around computers 80% of my days. I'm a much quicker typer than I am writer (I have a thing about neat handwriting, even if no one sees it but myself), and I could make fun formatting changes.

After the fiasco that was breaking up with my crazy ex, I decided that I would turn a new leaf, and therefore, create a new journal recording my fresh start. So far, I think it's working out rather well. I'm pretty disciplined about keeping updated. However, there are a few downsides:

1.) I can't say everything I want to. Yes, I know it's my blog, but I can't very well write down everything I'm feeling, every rant I want to go on, or every action I do because it wouldn't be kosher. Despite the vast assembly of accepting readers, I don't feel I can bear my soul entirely, like I can when I write.

2.) I feel a bit of anxiety to "perform" when I blog. Sure, what I write is my own, but I spend more time than I should, editing, formatting, and worrying about the comprehensiveness of my posts (like right now, I'm thinking "Is comprehensiveness a word? Or did I just make that up? I should look it up." Too much thinking!). Normally, I do a stream-of-consciousness form of writing, which is extremely therapeutic. (On the upside: editing my posts has given me a chance to grow and REALLY see what's worth my troubles and energies).

3.) I just straight up miss writing. There was something special to me, there always was, about sitting down with my journal, pen in hand, just busting at the seems to "get this off my chest". Sure, there is that "Phew" feeling I get after I blog, but it's just not the same. I can't take my monsterous computer to Starbucks, sip Peppermint Hot Chocolate, and people-watch as I type. Just not the same.

Well, Lanette, get thee to writing then, says you. Ah, not so easy, says I (suddenly I'm a pirate. Nar.) I have found that my attention span for anything non-computer related (journaling) that COULD be computer produced (via blog) has diminished significantly. Which saddens me.

Where has all the journaling gone? How is it now that 12 year old pre-pubescent children can access www.imyoungandeverythinghatesme.blogspot.com and type their fears and worries away? Don't they want some private time to say what they mean? Don't they want to curse their parents and love their first crushes within the confines of whisper-thin pages? Don't they want something EASY for their siblings to find? I mean, the chance of Little Sister happening upon their Older Sister's blog by clicking "next blog" is just as great as Britney Spears ever redeeming her dignity.

I cry for today's youth, and thank God that I wasn't young when "BLOGS" boomed. Everyone needs to write. That's just my humble opinion.

Gah, I'm OLD.

Insignificance Conveyed @ 8:00 PM   10 GabbyGabbers

10 "Sure was sweet of you to drop in":

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Matthew Henry "told me"

you sound like a wonderfully intelligent, very put together, young woman.

and i agree...writing is OH so therapeutic.

keep on writing. you've definitely got a voice.

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Jona "told me"

I agree with Matthew - this is a lovely post, and one I can easily relate to. Only difference is my body feels old, but my thoughts don't ;o)

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger Me Over Here "told me"

Mr. Matthew--Why, thank you so much! I really enjoyed your "People Skills" post, got a hearty laugh out of it! Please visit again, and I can't wait to read more from yours!

Debi--Thanks! And I say, as long as your thoughts stay young, that's all that matters!

 
At 7:21 AM, Blogger Rob West "told me"

Every now and then I worry that not enough people think. So it was refreshing to read this entry. What really struck me was the "preparing for parenting" aspect of thsi whole thing.

I was maybe 19 when I realized my parents were human. They had always managed to hide the fact from me, and I don't think that that's necessarily a good thing.

But I get a kick out of remembering that we're all the same. My grandparents were young once.. probably snuck out after curfew and went to go make out behind the stadium or whathaveyou. It's funny.

Anyway, I have also always hoped to be able to relate to my own kids that I've been there too...

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger chrissie "told me"

Great post! I, too, named my diary; I think it was brought on by reading Anne Frank. Mine was named "Dee", a la Diary.

I know what you mean about blogging. Sometimes I feel like my blog is an edited version of my life. It's in poor form to post about your job in a public forum(plus I've heard of people getting fired for such behavior), along with many other things: family drama, etc. So I guess my blog is a bit like "Chrissie lite".

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger MarkD60 "told me"

I've kept a journal for 15 years. Now I write in my blog instead, but I still have all my notebooks, they are fun to go back and read, as are my old blog entries.

 
At 1:22 PM, Blogger trishy "told me"

This is really funny. It seems we have found the same blog via my friends blog. What a funny community!

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger Me Over Here "told me"

Rob--I'm not always this clever, don't be fooled. I had this really uncomfortable feeling when I was, oh, 15 or so, that YES, Mom was right about not letting me do such-and-such. 'Til this day, even though I know she's *always* right, I will continue to argue with her. 'Cause it's fun. Thanks, and stop by again!

Chrissie--I liked that concept, and my steal it for my own: "Lanette Lite". A right good description.

Mark--Indeed, when I'm bored, I'll often fish out my old diaries and read back on how immature I was...wait, that's not really changed. Oh well, it still makes me chuckle to myself (esp. when I read things like "I'll NEVER get over this breakup!" etc.)

And Trishy--Yes, we've stumbled into each other. Let's do it more!

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger anna "told me"

Holy moly, where'd you get all these new chums? I was reading this entry, and I was like, "ah, Netters wrote an entry RIGHT up my alley, I'm'na comment now! And I'm 9th in line! You so popular, ma-yn.

Anyhow, I totally agree about the blog being not completely what you're thinking, just a "Lite" version (good one!). I have kept a written journal since I was 5 (well, Mom wrote my first one for me. It was my Ramona Quimby diary, and she would ask me the fill-in-the-blank questions: "What's your favorite food?" "Salad!" "Who's your best friend at school?" "Jill! More Mom, more!" Writing is the most therapeutic thing I do, and even though I keep a blog, all of my frantic, cleansing writing goes down on paper. It helps me sort stuff out so much! I think I have 19 journals now.

Oh, I'm not done yet. I totally talked to my journals too! "I mean, if you could see me, you would understand. Well, I'll come write in you again!" Oh, and I would sign my name for about a year. What did I think, I'd be famous and the pages would be incredibly valuable one day?

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Hannah "told me"

Hello!

I am contacting you because I am working with the authors of a book about blogs and I'd like to request permission to use a photograph of yours in this book along from with a quote from your blog. Please contact me at hannah@wefeelfine.org and I'd be happy to give you more information about the project. In the meantime, please visit our website at wefeelfine.org to see what we are all about. When you respond will you please paste a link to your blog in the subject field. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Hannah
hannah@wefeelfine.org

 

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