Young People! do NOT keep a journal!!!

I have twenty-four journals, books, with keepsakes, letters, cards, photos, quotes, hiking stories; worst of all, my own stupid personal conundrums written in convoluted and (apparently) infinite redundancy. I thought I’d found all the damned things but no; in the process of cleaning out the garage, I opened the LAST box. Guess what? A dozen more of the dumbass things.

You do not want to know when you’re 65 what an idiot you were at any point in your past life. Write the shit if it helps, then delete it. Do NOT commit it to paper or share it online. Do NOT buy one of those beautiful blank books that seems designed to embrace your every sacred thought because someday you’ll have to throw it all out. Save your money. Take a trip to some exotic locale you’ve always dreamed of and get out of your head.

And as I write this, my iPod plays…


28 thoughts on “Young People! do NOT keep a journal!!!

  1. No, you have to write it down. Sacred is right. The need to nurture your inner tortured self is an integral part of the process, don’t you remember? Just make sure you write in cheap notebooks or on the backs of envelopes, so when it’s time to throw it out, it’s easy to shred or burn or pulp in absolute privacy with no outside agent involved, and no awkward bits like leather covers left behind.

  2. I don’t know how you managed to move around so much and still have all that stuff. I had it, but the international and state to state moves wiped them out. I’m so glad it did. The idea of even having to briefly read back then is every so slightly nauseating. What a dweeb I was!

    • 🙂 I haven’t moved around much. I lived in one house in San Diego for 17 years and another house in the mountains outside San Diego for 11 years. My mom died in the middle of my life in my San Diego house and all her stuff came packed in boxes which I never opened. I opened them before I moved here — I should have done it a lot sooner and done the purge a lot sooner, but I worked so much I really had not one spare moment. So they all got moved more because inertia than anything. I didn’t really start keeping a journal until I moved to San Diego. I wish I’d kept one in China.

  3. We recently moved. As I was packing the house up I kept finding them all over the place. I wonder if I was trying to hide them or something, but I packed them all up and they’re in a box here now. After reading this I think I need to go through some of these boxes again and pare down.

    • Mine were in boxes in my closet for YEARS. I have figured out what to do with them, though. In with the (vast amounts of ) dross is some really lovely stuff and letters I want to read again. So when it gets cold and the snow falls, I will make an art project out of the beautiful stuff, and read the letters and throw them out. It’s too late for me to be saved, I guess! 😉

  4. Too late. Have one (of hundreds) since eight years old. Ugh! And I’ve just been keeping them in the garage too.

    • Well…Since 8 years old!!! Some of those could be WONDERFU. I started it when my aunt gave me a “last years” free appointment books she got from somewhere. It had really nice sayings in it. I just added pictures and some thoughts. That was 1981. I was 29 (thank god). Some of what’s inside mine is wonderful. I’m going to make a major art project out of them during the winter.

      • That is awesome! The very first one I had was given to me as a birthday gift with a pen to match. After that, I just made my own from (non-confidential) used papers from my Dad’s company then cover them using last year’s calendar!

        • Your journals must be amazing. I have a few things I drew when I was a little kid and some stuff I wrote, but I think my little kid journals would be fun to look at. It’s my 30/40 something going through divorce and bad love relationships that’s (shudder, shudder, grim, stupid, juvenile, embarrassing) 🙂

          • Oh but imagine you can see how much you’ve matured after all that! Orrrr still be the same you! What a revelation! I’m excited to read them when I go on a holiday in the Philippines (where originally I’m from). My journals from age 8 to 22 were all kept in there!

            • I’m not the same me and I’m glad I finally outgrew whatever THAT was. But I guess one point of journals is you write the stuff you can’t figure out as a way to think about it. But the traveling bits are great and the hiking stories, letters from people I loved (family), souvenirs. I bet you’re going to enjoy looking back through books written at that time in your life!

      • Maybe you could post some samples when you have made them. For inspiration and ideas on what I can do with mine too ☺️

  5. I found that keeping a journal gave me a skewed sense of my place in the world. It was a very egocentric activity and I was happier without.

    • That’s interesting. My journals didn’t have that effect. They were often the only place where I had solitude since I was teaching more than 7 college level writing classes at the time. My life was VERY “other” centered.

      My journal seemed to have two purposes –1) I used my journal to record my hikes and as a place to keep things that were beautiful and precious to me. 2) I used it to write down my confusion over (usually romantic) relationships.

      That’s the part that has embarrassed me at this point in my life. Just a few days ago I (having found another one) I realized I had just wanted to find love, a normal, human thing to do. I was just very bad at it and had not yet learned the difference between objective and subjective reality. That’s what I was trying to work out, but I didn’t know it at the time. I think the journals helped me get there.

      • When I was very young and I’d write a journal entry often when I went back to read it, it would only remind me of how little I fit into the world. Writing didn’t become a pleasure again until my 30s. Wasn’t until I hit my 40s I could comfortably revisit that time of my life.

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