Saturday, April 27, 2019

You're reading my diary

This story about diaries is breathtaking. It's illustrated and lovely. It caught me unaware this morning, during an internet browsing session I had to talk myself into. I've been sleeping a lot this week (10 hours a night) and I thought another foggy, rainy morning in bed might be just right. But I dragged myself up and made coffee and hoped that a little aimless clicking might motivate me to finish my work for this course I'm taking. And then I found this. 

"But you're still cognizant that someone might pick the lock and read the pages, and it still matters so much that a stranger likes you. So your diary is never all the way true."

I kept diaries in high school, and recently restarted one when I first became a contributing writer for Book Riot. It was such a weird time in my life, when I was finally getting this chance I had really dreamed of, and I found myself feeling deeply stupid and inadequate. The people I worked with were really, really smart about books (duh, because it was their job) and I desperately wanted them to like me, or be impressed by me (? Ashlie.) and I spent a lot of time poring over our back-channel communication in the editorial Slack account, grasping for times where I might reach out and make a connection, then terrified that I had said the wrong thing in the wrong way. At that time, Book Riot was instrumental in teaching me the way that books and politics intersect, the way that reading can be an act of activism, and the role I had as a teacher and a writer who recommends books. My mind was crammed with information, and for awhile, I worried much more about how I looked and was received during this education than actually getting it right. 

So I bought a diary.

I wanted a place where I could admit that I felt less-than. I am a big oversharer on the internet, but I couldn't even blog about feeling like I didn't have the intelligence I needed- intelligence and literal book-smarts where such a big part of the identity I crafted for myself. The diary was a DUMPING GROUND. I beat myself up for fighting with my husband, mispronouncing Yuyi Morales' name (and calling her 'him') to a publishing rep at a book conference, loving love triangles (the trope that every Classy book industry person I saw was rolling their eyes over), and in general being too green, too awkward, and too unimportant. Looking back, this is also where I wailed when my son's preschool teacher hated him (she did) and when we discovered he might need an IEP for educational support (he did). It was different than my usual online "Parenting is hard and my kitchen floor is messy" stream-of-consciousness. It wasn't a general, feel good, we're-all-in-this-together conclusion. I don't know if it's a coincidence that this was around the time my doctor prescribed me antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. 

There's not a big lesson-learned ending here, unless you count the fact that I can't find the diary now? I think I started it in 2016. I do a lot of reflection in my passion planner. I do less general sharing on the internet, not at all on purpose, but I feel like I have less time. And most of the things I decide to pour myself into are more about my outreach than my image. That is one of the most beautiful things about getting older. Of course I still care about how I look, but it's much easier to accept that not everyone is going to like me or be interested in my take. Working in a position that serves an entire school instead of a set number of kids/fellow teachers has taught me that universal acceptance is impossible. Learning that the people who run even a super-thoughtful, super-intelligent website are still humans who mess up and, most importantly, have different opinions than my own has let me be more confident in my own intelligence and comfortable with knowing what I don't know. 

I might need a diary again one day. Writing is still the best way to sort thoughts and figure out how I feel. Sometimes things are too close or too much a part of someone else's life for me to type until it makes sense, then hit publish and hope it helps someone else. But I'm glad I'm at a point in my life where I'm more comfortable admitting my stories of humiliation, my messes that can't be swiped with a sponge.  

Thanks for reading my diary.

Image credit: Maria Luque 


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