Revisiting My Youth… and Wishing I Hadn’t

Cheri Lucas Rowlands/The Daily Post

Cheri Lucas Rowlands/The Daily Post

Loneliness is an interesting feeling, particularly when it isn’t evident that you’re living a lonely existence.

One of my biggest blogging regrets is that I didn’t start one sooner. I have always kept journals from a young age and I have boxes that are filled with notebooks full of the ramblings of my younger self.

As an experiment I thought that it would be a fun idea to return to those notebooks for the first time in years and revisit my youth. I’ve seen quite a few inspiring posts based upon a similar concept and I invisaged that I would be able to glean some insightful content that would make me smile and remind me of happy memories of my life, experiences and of who I used to be.

I wish I hadn’t.

I have always believed myself to be content with my own company, proudly stating this on many occasions. However, what struck me about those diary entries was just how lonely I was. I have been known to rant on my little blog, but the rants that I discovered in those notebooks were of epic proportions. I hated everyone and everything. I was heavily in debt, I couldn’t afford to heat my house or eat properly and I was angry at the situation I had got myself into. Large amounts of the pages were taken up with financial charts that were designed to resolve my circumstances and pay everything off, but they never seemed to work. I was bored, I hated my job, my family, my friends. I wrote the same things again and again, and it never seemed to occur to me that I needed to change things if I wanted the situation to get better. I was man obsessed and desperate for affection – I had written about my ‘feelings’ for male acquaintances that I only have moderate recollections of now and I spent pages and pages quoting my favourite romantic movies and creating imaginary scenarios in my head where my knight in shining armour would rescue me. I wasn’t living, but merely existing, and despite being surrounded by lots of people, I felt completely and utterly alone.

There was one particular paragraph that made me stop and stare.

‘I procrastinate and talk utter sh*te to myself over and over again, making false promises to myself and those around me that I never follow through with, getting through life from day to day and not really achieving anything. At the end of each day I sit, alone, on my uncomfortable couch in a messy house watching inane programmes on the television until the early hours of the morning that only serve to make me want to believe that life is like the movies…’

Wow.

Admittedly, my existing memories of that particular time weren’t great, even before I decided to read the diaries – things were tough – but to my recollection other times had been far tougher and my current recollections were nowhere near to the level that I had recorded on those pages. As I read more and more I started to become frustrated with myself at my words, my hatred, my anger. I saw those words from the point of an outsider – I wanted to jump into them, slap myself and point out all the good things that I had in my life. I had a job, a house, pets, friends and a family, however disfunctional. I had everything.

While I can look back at that period of my life through seemingly rose tinted spectacles as the person that I am now, my words told me that I was lost and unhappy and yet couldn’t give a reason as to why. I wasted so much time wanting things for my future, when I should have been living for the present. I rang my mother and told her what I had discovered, and her response put everything into perspective:

“You may not feel this way now, but you must have needed to write it down at the time, so in a way it was a positive thing for you…”

She was right, as she always is. I did need it. As my blog serves me with an outlet to vent, to talk, to discuss, so did those journals. I needed to put pen to paper and release everything into the open.

I took those pages and shredded them. Hundreds of them. And with each piece of paper that was destroyed, I told myself that I am not that person anymore.

Hopefully, I never will be again.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

71 thoughts on “Revisiting My Youth… and Wishing I Hadn’t

  1. But aren’t you pleased that you had forgotten that things were like that? I keep an email dirt now which sends me a ‘last year you wrote……’ It cheers me up when I see that the previous year’s worry has dwindled and gained perspective. So I think it’s positive that you’d forgotten and that now you can see it differently. Journals from years ago do have their place but we didn’t all keep something powerful and significant.

  2. I want to slap myself sometimes without looking through past musings so I might not go there. 😉 Growth is a great thing when we don’t have to look too closely at how it occurred. It’s good that you’ve moved on so much that you can shred the old. That is something I need to do if only to clear some space. Between old writing and so much school stuff over the years – that I never go back to anyway – I think you may have inspired me to have a purge of the past.
    No regrets, Suzie. Just think if you’d had a blog back then and posted what you shredded. I’m cringing at my own imaginings of what may have found it’s way out into the world from my archives! The time was right when it was and just look at what you’ve achieved. 🙂

    • You’re so right – I’ve deleted hundreds of posts over the last year for the same reason – I cringed at the rubbish I had posted! I’ve had a good clear out over the summer and shredded a ton of old schoolwork too! Are you back yet my lovely?

  3. Here is me, revisiting my youth, Suzie:
    (reposted from my facebook notes)
    “Please Save and Read When Older, Love R.R.”
    January 22, 2009 at 2:37pm
    Ok….everyone has heard of time-capsules, I’m assuming. Well, it seems I have left myself one…sort of. I was looking through my jewelry box (which mostly contains notes, cards, and photos) trying to find the other half of my ring when I came across a note that I wrote to myself a long while ago. I had to share because it makes me laugh to think how little I’ve changed since I was 14 years old. Do you think you’ve changed much since you were 14?
    Well, here’s my note:

    “Dear Rachael,
    Today is May 19th, 1995, Friday. You are sitting in your room, moping on your bed. When and if you read this letter in the future you will think it’s kind of dumb. I know I do.

    Anyway, at the moment I am bummed because I have no close friends here, other than Jennifer. It means a lot to me to have her friendship. I wish I were a little older right now. I just don’t seem to fit in very well with the kids my own age. Just today someone told me I seemed older than the rest of them. It was Alicia. Maybe she’s right.

    Rachael, always remember how important friendship is to you. I know you probably still care about people’s feelings. I don’t think I could ever stop doing that. Do you? This is childish, but oh well. Just remember how much you hated being lonely. Oh yeah, tell Aaron “Happy Birthday”, okay.

    Love Always,
    Rachael

    PS Papa is a good man, just like the rest of your wonderful family
    PSS God is always with you and will take care of you. Never leave Him.

    3 days before Aaron’s 16th birthday.
    3 weeks ’til the end of my 8th grade year. Age 14 1/2
    I hope I’m ready for high school. To tell you the truth, I’m scared to death. ;P”

    ______________
    And there you have it!

  4. Oh you shredded them! I didn’t see that coming. You’re absolutely not that person anymore but all those experiences make you the lovely person you are today so the writing can’t be all that bad? We’re all learning, cringing, then learning some more. We all are.

  5. I have books too of the past. My diaries. I feel sad when I read them. Because they were sometimes written with tears. And those incidents still bring tears to my eyes. I feel its better not to journal.

  6. Yes. The past is another country and you were another person. I agree with your mum, it was a positive coping mechanism. It was better than turning to drugs, alcohol or other self harming behaviours.
    I’ve got similar stuff I have crammed in boxes. I sometimes delve in then run away fast. Is it like a oui ja board? Hidden like an evil temptation in the closet but something a little too sinister to play with in case it really does summon the evil spirits?
    Another phrase: the past is in the past for a reason, sometimes it is better to leave it there.
    But: is a man divided from his past divided from himself?
    Is a life unexamined a life wasted?
    What about your family history that you might want to pass on to great grandchildren some day so they really know you even though you never met? 🙂

  7. The old you helped you become who you are today. I think we all have bad periods of time like the one you experienced. Nonetheless it’s very wise of you to see through it all, and have the courage to revisit those journals. I have diary entries too, and the rare moments I reread them I often find myself cringing. But I’m a different person now.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. You tore a piece right out of my life. I was reading about myself in this blog post. I still struggle with loneliness. Yes, I had the hate toward others also, the debt, the man obsession/addiction or whatever you want to call it. The delusional fantasy that I am supposed to be living a perfect life or everything is supposed be like TV. Messy house and all- I relate to you in this post.

    Your Mom is right- you needed it- I needed it and still do. Reason I started a blog. I need to get it out there.

    Your past has molded you into the person you are. Look at it 20/20 and know that you are no longer there-

  9. I think we all look into our pasts and wonder why we didn’t do things differently. Lord knows there are a few things I’d do differently had I known then what I know now.

    • Absolutely! I’ve often thought about the things that I would change if I could go back and revisit them, but if I did then I may not necessarily be in the place that I am now, which is generally a happy one…

  10. Think about why we write, especially when we are young. Writing is an outlet. When you’re a teenager everything in life is also blown up into epic proportions. I love reading how melodramatic I was when I go back to my old diaries. It’s actually laughable because in reality I had a wonderful teenage life, but wow do I complain about everything under the sun.

    I’m sad you destroyed those pages because those moments didn’t define you but that doesn’t negate how you felt at certain moments.

  11. As usual I totally agree. I also have notebooks of ramblings. Although i tried to fashion mine into song lyrics to try and convince myself I didn’t have a journal lol

  12. Whenever I’ve re-read my old journals, it was disheartening. i finally threw them all away last Fall, and it was freeing. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone reading them, if something should happen to me and they are cleaning out my house. I was also cleaning out to move, and as I was throwing things out, kept wondering why I had kept them all these years in the first place. I think it was wise for you to free yourself of them. Beautifully written.

  13. This is a great testimony on how we all could look back and “cringe” or smile at our past experiences. Nevertheless, those “residuals” of our past are what make us who we are today – the beautiful person who have become (inside and out) and the “matured” way you look at life. Those experiences had undeniably helped us grow. And growth is always a good thing!

    On the other hand, I appreciate your courage to look into your past and decided to discard (shred) what was. Right now, you are what you have become. And that’s what’s important 😉

    Godspeed

  14. I relate to almost everything you mention in this post. Not blogging sooner being one of the biggest. I too used to keep journals when I was still a teen, and now I have them stashed away in a remote corner of my cupboard. But when I do take them out and read them, I wish I could go back to the teenage me and tell her to stop fussing about the little struggles that wouldn’t matter anymore in a few years’ time.
    As for blogging, I am glad I did manage to start, even if late.

  15. Pingback: “The Angel” – The 18th of March 1963 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Forgotten Correspondence

  16. Thank you for liking “Replicas of Famous Landmarks.” Nice post! 🙂 Keeping a journal was something I did when I was younger, but I am glad I eventually found better things to do with my time and energy. I ended up destroying my journals because they were taking up space, and I did not want anyone else coming across them and reading personal thoughts that I myself would rather forget.

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