Burned Evidence

Who, in their right mind, burns their diaries?

I did. I sat out in the back yard and set a match to every page of two diaries and watched as ticket stubs, photos of my best friends and memories of day-to-day life went up in flames. In a few moments, all written evidence of a young girl’s life were lost and gone forever. I can’t imagine what I was thinking.

Intellectually, I understand that I was not in my right mind. Scientists discovered teen brain grey matter changes well into the early 20’s. Now, we know enough to forgive teens for any irrational or risky behaviour. I know enough to forgive myself.

What would I have done without my journal when I was 14?

What would I have done without my journal when I was 14?

I had spent hours filling up those journals. Every night before bed, propped up by my pillow, I wrote until my internal well was dry – pages and pages of what it was like to live in my world, reduced to charred remains.

Today, I can only imagine the juicy details and dramatic reactions that were my reality back then. But I know, within those pages, I would have found the record of a tender, budding soul.

In those pages, I’d find a young girl who wanted to be liked, to fit in with a crowd of friends and have fun. I’d find a girl whose passion was negatively affected by one person’s opinion, a girl who gave up too easily. She was a girl who was afraid to take on new experiences in case they didn’t turn out perfectly.

I wish I still had the supporting evidence of that young girl’s life. But, I still know her. She walks with me everyday and grows along with me.

 

With today’s perspective, here’s what I’d tell that young girl.

  1. Do not let Mr. High School English Teacher, take away your passion with one unsupported comment. His is just one opinion in this very big world. Always, get another opinion.
  1. Go find your people – those who inspire you to raise your game and help you feel good in your own skin. Talk to the people in your life who truly know your personality, your loves, and your vulnerabilities. See what advice your supporters have for you.
  1. “To hell with naysayers,” I’d say. “If you want something badly enough, you can achieve it!” Go find your passion’s biggest supporter and call her your mentor. Put her at the top of your contact list to call when you need advice or encouragement.
  1. Exhaust all possibility that your pursuit is not for you before you give it up. If you love what you’re doing but don’t love the lessons, find a new teacher – someone who teaches because they love to see a student’s face light up when they “get” it, someone who shares your passion.
  1. And, if you do decide to give up, remember that all experiences matter. Take the lessons you’ve gathered along the way and build on them. Apply them to your next big thing.
  1. Know the values that drive your decisions and stick with them, no apologies to anyone, especially yourself.
  1. To the frightened introverted girl, afraid to say “no”, I’d say, “No is the word of healthy boundaries. Is your comfort worth trading for someone else’s?”
  1. But then there is “yes”. “Yes” is the answer. “Yes, I will experience life.” Say yes to everything that moves you toward your dream. Experience everything you possibly can. It’s through doing we grow in strength and confidence. You have a big life ahead of you. Don’t let it scare you. Step out in the world independently and go live your great story.

Yes and no. Two powerful little words. Know when to use them.

 

Just a few thoughts to consider – find your supporters, take your lessons, know your values and live. That’s what I’d say.

What would you say to her? What would you say to your teenage self?

10 thoughts on “Burned Evidence

  1. Really interesting Kath. I’ve burnt much of my writing across my life at many different times.
    I love to connect with the part of me which reminds me exactly who I am. “There you are.” I say! Feeling full of love, fondness. Realising that I am someone to cherish and care for, love and take care of. My life is always better when I am in it with me. Great post…..

    • Self love is really step #1, isn’t it Jan? We have to show ourselves kindness and compassion in order to offer it others. I hear ya. 🙂

  2. What a lovely post, although my heart skipped a beat when I read where you burned your diaries. Oh, how good it would be to reread them now, after all life has taught you. They would probably be a little embarrassing, too (at least mine would be, if I still had them). Still, those childhood experiences helped make us what we are today. I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided to not regret anything! Even burning the past. And, yes, hold on to your supporters, of which I am one! Love, Dottie

    • One of my biggest regrets. What I wouldn’t give to read those diaries now – embarrassments and all, Dottie. All I can do now is forgive myself for being so short-sighted.

  3. Your post reminded me of the time I burnt all my diaries, too. I had begun writing in a diary when I was 9 — that was when my father passed away into the other world… and I felt very lonely without him. I burned every single one of them, though, when I turned 17 because that was a crucial year in my life… I changed a lot after that and I guess my act was a symbolic one of distancing myself from what I had been until then. I still have my diaries from 17 to today…. and you know what, I don’t regret burning them…. I like myself better the way I am now. And mostly, if I still had them, reading them would have brought back a lot of painful memories… so I guess in a way I’m glad I did it.
    I love your posts, Kathi ! Even someone such as me…living in a different continent… can identify with what you write 🙂

    • I am sorry you lost your father so young. You were so smart, at 9, to use a diary to help sort out your feelings. That must have been a very painful time in your life. I was probably about 17, also, maybe 18 and had experienced the recent divorce of my parents. Maybe I wanted rid myself of painful memories, too. The teen years can be challenging enough without major incident.
      I love hearing from you, Zehra. Thank you for thoughtful comment.

    • I’m glad it was only two I burned, Andrew. I do have a box of others and various bits of both, Mom and Dad’s writing, too. I feel fortune to have their’s and am just deciding how best to curate what I have. Thanks for commenting. I enjoy your posts!

    • We just never stop learning and growing do we, Heather? I’m sure you could offer me some advice, too!

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