The journals: teens and twenties

Longtime readers may remember that I’m a natural-born documentarian — witness this array of journals that are in a Rubbermaid container under my bed. Each day of my life since high school is accessible with a simple lifting of a bin lid.

Justine recently excavated some of her old journals, going back in time. I decided to kick up some dust and do the same. Be prepared to cringe just a little.

journals generic

High school: [Nothing too interesting, except that I kept a running list of boys I kissed. It numbered six by the time I left for college. And then it got longer and longer…I prayed to Jesus a lot in those years for certain boys to like me.]

College: Being only 17, I look at old people and feel that I’ll never get old. Then I realize that this feeling is a result of my inexperience and youth. This realization, however, shows a certain degree of wisdom that is normally acquired with age and experience.

Still in college: A guy. If I have to look for him this hard, he must not be worth finding.

After college graduation, contemplating a marriage proposal: Lately, I’ve thought I really wouldn’t mind dying. I don’t want to face all these decisions. Also, I’ve lost so much of my career ambitions and feel so purposeless. Is it going to take a brush with death for me to appreciate life? God, what’s wrong with me? This should be the happiest part of my life!

Two months before a wedding date: There are three ways to go off the high dive: (1) kicking and screaming, with someone pushing you; (2) “What the hell” — kind of dragging but on your own accord; or (3) “I can’t wait!” — real excited. Same with getting married. I was at #1 a few weeks go. When we set a date and until now, I’m at #2. Maybe by the wedding date I’ll be at #3.

[Note: this was before I met Roger. Later on I experienced #3.]

Challenger: When I heard the news I really didn’t get how tragic and devastating the space shuttle disaster would be. I know my initial blasé didn’t cause those 7 deaths, but still. Do I feel guilty? I can’t tell the difference between what I do feel and what I should feel.  It does feel good, though, to be part of a mourning nation — we’ve all forgotten other differences for the moment and joined together.

Age 26: This year was tough — bad break-up, company folded, the deaths of my cousin and my dog. Yet I feel I’m on the verge of something great. My upcoming year in Japan and the guts to go do it is a positive step. I want to (as always) get closer to Jesus, reduce my dependence on others for self-worth, tone up and survive the loneliness, calling on reserves of faith. I’m looking forward!

Living in Japan, missing another Mr Wrong: What do you do when reality cannot live up to past memories or future fantasies, and someone’s absence is greater than their presence?

Age 29, in grad school: Each year goes faster than those previous. Maybe in this coming one I’ll find love. Please, Jesus.


Next up? The 30s (if I find anything worthwhile in that decade).

What’s in your journal?

 Image courtesy of Jomphong /

12 thoughts on “The journals: teens and twenties”

  1. Nothing really cringe-worthy there…just normal young adult stuff.

    I never kept a journal, so I only have my spotty memories to cringe over…

  2. You know how jealous I am that you have those day-to-day journals. Mine jump in time. I’d write two days in a row and then not again for another week. I wonder what happened in the in-betweens.

  3. If only I had written in journals. But your recapturing old memories post reminded me of a sweet story. One of my boyfriends in college asked to look at my high school yearbook. I didn’t really think anything about it when he kept it for a couple of days. A number of years later, as I was looking through that same yearbook, did I notice a hidden message. Centered across two pages in my yearbook was a letter from him reminding me to never forget such fun college times. The light had to hit the glossy page just right to reveal the buried words.

  4. My journals are pretty spotty, like Mel’s, but I was surprised at how consistent they became in my 20s. And then nonexistent in my 30s. Part of me thinks I should start again at 40, but how will I keep a blog AND a journal? Oh, the pressure to write. 😉

    I love that you’re sharing these tidbits. It’s interesting to see how your writing develops, even though your “voice” is recognizable even in these bits and pieces from long ago …

  5. Seriously impressed with your record keeping, and how cool it is you still have them all! I once read the abridged diary of Samuel Pepys: he kept a diary for 10 years and chronicled the Plague and the Great Fire as well as what he ate and drank and who he saw. (Like modern day bloggers?) Among the mundane talk about his gout were truly brilliant observations like: “When a man is tired of London he is tired of life.” I look forward to your next installment!

  6. I kept journals on & off from about the time I was 7 through university, and very sporadically since then. The old ones are still in box at Mom & Dad’s — I do need to retrieve them some day! I’m almost afraid to look in them… I know there is some hilarious stuff in there, but I’m sure there will still be some “ouch!” points too. And a lot of melodrama. 😉

  7. Lori, I love the picture of your journals! As a fellow documentarian, I think it’s so cool to be able to look back on your life like that. Memories are unreliable–getting it straight from the source is better.

  8. Although I never journaled. I have kept every letter from my mother. We actually still use that archaic method of communication of snail mail. Although I only have one side of the conversation I cherish these letters.

  9. I recently came across the journal I wrote through Jr. high and high school. Page after page it was all about boys. Like I would be devestated if Steve didn’t talk to me one day. Honestly, I have no idea who “Steve” is today. I can’t picture what he looks like, or anything else about him. I flipped over a few dark pages where I probably should have been put on anti-depressants flipped to the back where I saved tickets from concerts I went to. Overall, it was an amusing read, but not the “me” I am today. Just a younger, shallower version. I ended up throwing it away. There’s no way I want my daughter reading it lol.

    1. I read this the day you posted it and meant to return and comment sooner, but better late than never. I love how you were able to summarize what wrote during those ages and stages of your life. I too have journaled throughout my life, though like Mel and Justine, rather inconsistentanty. I was the most consistent the semester I lived and studied in London, England in Winter/Spring 1996. I find it so interesting to read what I was thinking and feeling at various times in my life, especially how seriously I took myself much of the time, but also how wel I seemed to know myself back then. I would love to do a post like this and may at some point. As I told Justine in my comment on her post, I have been contemplating selective memory and why we have/develop it. I am working on a blog entry about that, though rather slowly, and look forward to sharing and hearing your and others’ takes on it/ the topic. Thanks for sharing! I do hope you share about your 30s and beyond!

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