I don’t remember exactly when writing became a part of my life, but I know it was long before I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I only knew that writing offered a way to say the things I couldn’t tell anyone. I only know that it was a very private thing, a secret expression of who I was. I knew that it was all I had.
It started somewhere between when my 14-year-old self gave up on the world and when my 17-year-old self gave the world a second chance. I think my first notebook was probably picked up in a Hot Topic, probably along with a pack of plastic lip rings and a stack of discounted Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics.
I don’t remember when the journals became a part of my daily life, but I do remember there became a time where they were pulled out multiple times a day. I remember trying different pens and inks and even wondering about writing with coffee or even my own blood. Now that would be a true self-expression.
Like my first love, I longed to spend all my time with writing and searched for ways to bring us closer than was probably possible or healthy. I remember that I bought new journals before I could finish the old one, hoping that I could write better with a cover that really represented who I was. I remember I lost one on a bus somewhere and I still feel the loss of it as a tiny hole in my heart.
I don’t remember what I wrote about; I know it was a lot of “sad girl” stuff. I know I was lost, and I know I was angry. More than anything, though, I was lonely. I wrote about being depressed before I knew what it was and I wrote about love before I knew what that was too. I doodled and painted. I wrote my name over and over again, trying to make it into something beautiful and real.
I still have some of them. I keep them in boxes under the basement stairs and whenever I see them I feel a strange combination of love for my younger self who poured herself into them and shame that my deepest, and very often foolish and dramatic, feelings exist in a physical form. A form that anyone might come looking and see.
I don’t remember exactly when those journals moved from paper things to digital things, but I remember spending time on old computers learning HTML and typing away on online diaries along with other “sad girls.” I remember the thrill of making my feelings public and fearing that someone in my family might read them one day.
I wish I could still log into my old Open Diary account. The first place I ever met other sad, lonely girls like myself. I felt free when I wrote there and just like the paper journals that came before I wrote there multiple times a day. I was obsessed. I could change the look of it to suit whoever I was that day, and I could delete one and make another whenever I wanted to start over.
I don’t remember exactly when I first heard the term blogging or associated it with something I was, or wanted, to do, but I know I was doing it long before I learned the word. I moved from Open Diary to many different blogging platforms over the years, and each one was abandoned and forgotten eventually. I read other people’s blogs and fell in love with their lives only to have them abandon the medium, and me, too.
The freedom I felt at first always turned to fear. Fear of being found out. Fear that my family and friends might read my secrets and know more about me than I wanted. That felt like too much of a loss of power, but the feeling of being understood was too attractive, and I always came back to the online world of journalling.
I don’t remember when I decided that I would like to take the next step and write about who I was and what I felt under my own name, but it was around the time I began to connect the act of personal expression to becoming a published author. I know I hoped that by ceasing to hide behind usernames and convoluted email address I might be able to take this form of expression from notebooks to a novel.
I find myself moving from those private journals of my teenage years to more and more public writing every day. I set out to practice the craft and have ended up revealing more and more of myself to strangers. I am slowly learning to cope with my friends and family seeing me this way too.
I might not remember the details of how or when, but I feel that my life has always bent toward expression through words and toward the sharing of them. I am nowhere near the end of it, and I have no idea where I will end up. I only know that I have always felt the most like myself when I am writing.
I only know that it all started with a cheap notebook I bought in a store that catered to sad, lonely, overly emotional teenage girls like me. I know that that girl had something to say, and she’s still saying it today.
Writen in response to the The Daily Post’s Discover Challenge: Origin Story
Featured image via Unsplash