These past few days I’ve been reading back through some of my journals. I’ve kept a journal consistently since high school, and occasionally, I pull one out and read back through my reflections. I’m reminded of so many moments, emotions, and conversations that I otherwise would have forgotten. I process information and emotions better through writing, and keeping a journal has been the one consistent thread through my life these past ten years.
I’ve been reading through my senior year of college and fresh-out-of-college-years, in particular. I’m struck by how emotional and aware I was back then. I often wrote about this need to have everything perfect, and I was very honest—or tried to be—about my flaws and shortcomings. I frequently lamented this need to perfect my character. I took everything so seriously, and though I think it’s touching to see how concerned I was about my every spiritual and ethical flaw, I also think I didn’t experience life enough. I was too concerned about the state of my soul.
I think, in many ways, I was a better person back then. I was more conscientious of my every action. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more free, but maybe not as kind. I’m not as motivated by constant self-improvement. I’m not sure what precipitated my slow decline into less self-flagellation, but reading back through the 2003-2004 years, in particular, makes me appreciate my loosening up.
Many of my musings are about my relationships and love life. I wrote a lot about my college boyfriend, and—I’m almost embarrassed to admit this—our five breakups. I can now laugh about how emotional I used to be, and how I used to analyze every facet of us, trying, unsuccessfully, to mold him into my “perfect” ideal of a relationship. It’s amazing we got back together enough times to bring our failure count to five. But we did really love each other, and I think in our youth, we had a hard time navigating our emotions and emerging adulthood. I now wish I could apologize to him for being so unnecessarily serious about the whole thing.
It’s interesting to ponder the “what ifs” of life. What if I would have married him? We’d be living in Napa. Maybe still married? Would we have had children? How different my life would be. Instead, we decided the fifth time was the final. I moved away to grad school and he married someone else.
But it’s so interesting to flip back through the journal files and reminisce about a period in my life that was un-necessarily turbulent, yet innocently heartfelt.