Reading Diaries

“I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” ~ Oscar Wilde

As I pondered how to being this blog, I felt motivated to read the first entry from each of my diaries. (I’ve written in a journal since I first learned how to write.  Thus far I’ve filled 26, and kept track of all but one.)  Memories refreshed themselves and I found myself alternately smiling and cringing.  When I’d finished reading, my thought was, how would I feel if someone else were to peruse these pages?

My journal writing was how I learned to speak my mind and be comfortable with honesty and vulnerability.  In its early volumes, my journal was the one place in which I revealed all the secrets I carefully guarded from my parents and friends.  Secrets like angry or selfish thoughts, crushes, jealousies, silly personal triumphs, fears, and goals.  As a teenager I would have been mortified if someone had read my diary.  Nowadays, my journal is a place for thinking aloud privately (occasionally I do think aloud publicly, usually with humorous or embarrassing results).  I would not be mortified if someone were to pick up my current volume, but I would be uneasy and I can’t pinpoint why.  Perhaps because I’ve never been inclined to read a diary that was not my own?

What about you?  Would you read someone else’s diary–with or without permission?  Would you let someone to read yours?

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6 Comments

Filed under Reflections

6 responses to “Reading Diaries

  1. Shareen

    Joanna~
    I, too, just read some of my old journals. I found that my cringing was more about how horribly I used to write than about what events I made note of (although, in retrospect, childish introspection plagued my teen years). I did away with most entries on the spot! Heaven forfend anyone read them! But, as an interesting note, I found that most of my writings were written JUST IN CASE anyone found them, leaving out important names, places, etc. It took a lot of brain power to remember exactly what the heck I was actually writing about and, honestly, what kind of a silly journal is that?

  2. When I was about twenty I re-read some of my old journals from my teen years and was so mortified that I tossed them in the trash. I have only kept one journal since then, and sadly it only gets one or two entries a year. I try to keep track of major events in my life and things going on in the world. It’s something I wouldn’t mind my descendants reading some day.

    As for reading someone else’s journal, I have done that in the past (those awful teen years), and that’s part of the reason I threw out my old journals (that and I didn’t think anyone needed to read about all my old crushes).

  3. My journals have a lot of that too—alluisons and veiled references to incidents that I probably believed I’d never forget. Now that I have forgotten, it makes for poor reading! I’ve saved my journals for so long that I can’t see myself tossing them, but I will have to give some thought as to whether I’d pass them along to my descendants.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. How come all of the best quotes are always from Oscar Wilde? He is awesome. I am always cringing at things I’ve written just a week ago. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been a very good journal-keeper. The blog is really as close I’ve gotten (even though sometimes it makes me cringe too).

  5. Hugo

    I started keeping a journal when I joined the navy. The idea was to chronicle my experiences, the places the people, so that someday I could look back on major part of my life and remember what the heck I did. I wanted to catalogue every moment, and literally that’s exactly what I did…

    “August 17, 1995, 0500: Woke up this morning to Staff Sergeant Jones running thru the barracks flipping mattresses, too bad I was still in mine.”

    Some things are funny and others are just silly male banter and self boasting, probably more fiction than fact. In hind sight, my earlier entries aren’t appropriate for anyone to read. As I’ve matured my journals have evolved, they are more introspective now. As Plato said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”, so I try to examine my life using a journal as my lab bench. I spend a lot of time thinking about who I am and who I want to become. If asked, I may consider revealing what I wrote but I too wouldn’t give up my thoughts easily. I fell journals are private; sort of like someone else’s underwear drawer, it’s just wrong to go through it.

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