A search for new story ideas led me to the box of diaries I wrote back in high school. I had taken a peek at these notebooks from time to time but had never actually read them. Boyfriend was away for a couple of weeks so I ended up poring over three or four notebooks during my free evenings.
I can’t remember having read anything before that made me cringe at every page. Mostly at the subjects I gave enough importance that I wrote about them in detail: people I barely knew, petty gossips and silly school incidents. But this was after all a conversation with my younger self–no, wait–an experience of listening to my younger self speak. (I did find myself asking “what the hell were you thinking” more than a few times). With this perspective I learned to forgive my naive denial of unpleasant things brewing around me, while at times be astounded by the frankness of my thoughts and wicked opinions I formed of some people around me.
Accuracy was a double-edged sword; it helped me remember things so vividly and also left me with pages and pages of evidence that I was once silly and weird, not in a bad-ass, quirky way that I would happily own.
(I have always felt guilty whenever I read things about famous people that were supposedly taken from their diaries. Didn’t they keep these things private for a reason?)
But there were gems. Drawings. Items. Pages devoted to quotes. Remembrances of friendships that have lasted to this day and unhindered imaginings of my future self. I once dreamt of becoming a fashion designer (now I happily indulge in dress-like-a-grandma days). I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with friends in their homes (which I much preferred than having them over at our place, which rarely happened). Also remembered my love of scary rides at amusement parks (I’m not sure I’m as brave these days.)
I have always thought it ironic that I stopped journalling when I started attending journalism school. I blamed the combination of crazy Manila commute and heavier school work. I had bigger worries and heavier experiences to write about. Greater triumphs too. I switched to day planners. The truth is I’m not unhappy that I stopped. I learned from reading my diaries that I was writing mainly to endure what life was throwing at me back then, not so much to hang on to memories that I might want to recall in the future. I am now of the opinion that whatever’s worth remembering firmly stays in the head, like it or not. After all, nine notebooks of my writing from ages twelve to seventeen should yield enough story ideas for a lifetime.