Friday, April 17, 2015

Finding My Way

Some time ago I mentioned that I was thinking about trying to digitize my old journals. Well, now that I'm finished with my favorite old negatives, I've been experimenting with the notebooks. I pulled out my oldest existing adult journal, from 1989, and began reading and transcribing the first entry.

I'm already exhausted. Good Lord, I was a tiring human being. So much youthful angst and anger and venting. I was unhappy with my job, I felt unfairly treated by my friends, I just complained and complained. Occasionally I made note of important life events, like the death of my grandmother, or happy outings to thrift stores. But mostly I was struggling with who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to live my life.

I struggled with money right after college. I was making something ridiculous like $17,000 a year. But I paid off some minor bills and then got a slight raise at work, prompting me to move from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment. I thought I'd enjoy the extra space and finally use all the stuff I'd collected during my collegiate years of thrifting. But almost immediately I was dissatisfied, and wanted to chuck it all.

I got a laugh from this entry, from March 19, 1990:

"I've been entertaining a really far-out fantasy these past few days. I'm going to quit my job and go into the Peace Corps. I will serve a year. Then I will return and clean people's houses for a living as I work on my creative writing. I will grow vegetables and raise farm animals and rent an old, white, small house in the country. I will get an earring. I will become Buddhist."

I was 23 when I wrote that. I definitely knew I did not want to be just another salary man, with a two-car garage, 2.5 kids and a dog. I kept reinforcing the idea that I just wanted a modest job that would pay my bills and allow me to live my life.

Isn't it funny that ultimately I got exactly that? I did the Peace Corps, I practiced Buddhism, I got an earring. (Two of them!) I never cleaned people's houses, but after all my years in journalism, here I am, working in a school library -- certainly a relatively modest job. And special bonus: I got Dave! I made only brief forays into vegetables and never did farm animals, which is just as well.

Anyway, I'm still on the fence about transcribing all this writing. Aside from the fact that it would be a lot of work, I'd struggle with the editing. I don't want to transcribe (or make public, God forbid) all my complaining and angst, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to whitewash my experiences. It's worth remembering that I struggled, that I was trying to find my path and I was occasionally unhappy. Right?

So, I don't know. Maybe I'll just keep the notebooks bundled up in my closet.

(Photo: Discarded furniture in Colindale, March 31.)


e said...

So, what is it you want from your life now? (Aside from having your smart ass friend not ask questions like this at 1:30 AM?)

ellen abbott said...

oh yes, youthful angst. I'm glad I didn't write any of that down. if I had though I'd happily let it all hide in the closet.

utahDOG! said...

Don't get rid of the old ones either!

Vivian said...

it is funny to look back and see our thoughts.
aren't you happy you kept a journal?
have a great weekend

Linda Sue said...

I embarrassed myself so much with my 23 year old self, writing morose poetry, waking up in a not so ideal existence...I have finally let go of all of those writings, shredded, though at the time I thought they might be valid or interesting...nope, gone, I am not even close to that person who was. If you can glean the important, interesting bits it will be a good read for everyone else, especially young people just coming into their own. Your life is pretty awesome right now!I love your blog so much and look forward to reading it every day! Thank you for that!!!

Sharon said...

Makes me wonder what I would have written if I had kept a journal at that age. Probably much the same.

JennieB said...

Do keep your original diaries. They will be a great find to a niece or grand nephew who may be doing your family history in the future. It is great to find an ancestor's actual writing. It could get lost if only on digital. I began keeping a daily journal in 1988 when the Australian Govt produced a lovely diary for us all to write about life during our bicentennial year. I just write about everyday activities but try to put in prices and descriptions to make it an interesting find for a future family historian.

Ms. Moon said...

Personally, I would keep them bundled up as they are. But reading them can really be very interesting, can't it?

The Bug said...

I recently read some journals I wrote in (VERY sporadically) when I was in middle & high school. Oh boy, you're not kidding about angst! I was pretty annoyed with myself after just a few pages. It's a wonder my parents didn't kill me :)

I love how you ended up doing most of what you'd decided to do. In March 1990 I was 24 & getting engaged to Mike. I had NO CLUE what was in store for me, but other than wishing I'd been a little more frugal along the way I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out.

37paddington said...

You manifested your 23 year old dream. I find it fascinating how well you knew yourself even then. As for journals, I struggle with whether to toss mine or keep them bundled up in the closet. I think i would be horrified if any of my loved ones read them as I mostly wrote when I was feeling angsty, as therapy. it would be a completely one-sided view of my 20s. I definitely won't be transcribing them. I'll be curious to know what you decide.