After years of neglect, I finally gave my journal some attention in 2016. It had been mostly tossed aside in favor of this blog for quite a while, but over the last several months, whenever I sat down to blog, I just... couldn't. Everything I wanted to write felt too personal, too sacred, to share here. And so I returned to my journal. Pen and paper. Writing privately, just for me — not for this little blog, or for work — I'd almost forgotten how good that felt. It was freeing.
If I'm being totally honest, I think I also stepped back from this blog out of fear. The internet is a different, far more intimidating place than it was when all this began. Back in 2009, I started a blog because Sam had one, and because it felt like I was writing to her, my best friend. (And I mostly was, since she was one of, you know, five-ish friends following my posts.) The blogging world felt small because it was fairly small, and that sense of intimacy, real or imagined, allowed for open, fearless, altogether imperfect writing.
Things, of course, have changed. With writing, all of it — on blogs, on sites, on social media — there's a level of scrutiny that didn't seem to exist before. Or, if it did, I was naive enough to ignore it.
I'm grateful for the scrutiny. It keeps us honest, and it encourages thoughtful, diligent writing, both in journalism and in tiny corners of the web like this one. For me, though, that scrutiny comes with the sense that I need to be a bit more cautious. Careful with my language and my ideas. That's good for me, I know. It's a necessary and ultimately rewarding challenge, but it's also forced me to rethink my writing, and who I am as a writer. For better and for worse, I question myself more than ever before, and I'm doing my best to reclaim (and reshape) my voice.
More than once I've considered deleting this blog, or making it private, or erasing entire sections. It's not that I've ever written anything really wild or controversial — let's be real, this is basically a collection of sappy, melodramatic musings on the people I love and the places I come from. Still, I find myself feeling a bit embarrassed about some of what I wrote in my early twenties. The blogging landscape has changed so much that some of those earlier posts feel out of place and slightly unrecognizable. Isn't that how it always feels when you go back and read your old diary entries?
For now, anyway, I've decided that it should stay. That there's something sweet and sort of powerful about the raw, wide-eyed innocence and optimism of a young person saying whatever they want to say, even if it's cheesy or slightly self-centered or imperfect. Especially if it's imperfect.
We need those bold, unabashed voices more than ever now, don't you think?