I cleaned out my room a little this summer, and as I’ve done that I’ve gone through my old diaries, my old writing, my old journal tumblr, and even my old journals on deviantART. As someone who’s kept a diary since kindergarten and is going through her end-of-the-summer-too-much-time-on-her-hands crisis, reading through all of this stuff again isn’t weird or a sign of anything. It just makes me think again about how much I hate my past self, and how every point in my life can pretty much be defined by hating my past self.
I say that, but it’s not completely true. For a year or two I believed I’d moved past my cringe-iness in my sophomore year of high school, because entries from that time just seemed honest and heartfelt and relatable (and also it helped that I hated myself so much during that time, all I could do when I read those entries was feel bad for myself). But looking back again has made me realize that I’ve finally outgrown that period (because isn’t it a form of growing to hate who you once were? It means you’ve changed, at least). I’ve finally started to view my past self as cringe-y, just in a slightly different way than before.
Because while before-high-school-me was a jerk, sophomore-year-to-college-me makes me intensely uncomfortable. I overidealized/ overhyped everything and everyone because I felt so worthless that I figured everyone else must be better than me. I felt that I had to make up for my presence in the world so I undersold myself and put myself down and gave time and gratitude to people who didn’t deserve it. I cared so much about things that weren’t that important and people who didn’t think about the enormity of what I shared with them twice. Everything was just so much. I read my thoughts from that time, and I feel… disgusted? No, that’s too strong. Sick? Embarrassed? Sad at how pathetic I was and how far gone I was? I feel so bad for past-me because I know I was bad off (I try to be as honest with myself as possible in journal entries) but also it’s so much.
I always have this tendency to want to distance myself from things as soon as possible. To, as soon as I recognize that something or some part of me was shitty, assume I’m completely different and that I’m now allowed to speak about it as if there’s a concrete divide between then and now. As if it’s completely in the past.
But it’s not. I still have all of those insecurities — those feelings that I don’t quite fit in where I am in life, worries that I’m not doing enough/ interesting enough, guilt that I’m not as good as talking to my friends as I once was, feelings that I’m wronging someone or dragging them down or that I’m fake.
Now I can say I know people can and do love me. I know that I can do things for myself when I put my mind to it, and that I’m allowed to judge and blame and look down on other people. As shitty as it sounds, I even feel like a better person for it. But there’s something necessarily humbling about remembering I’m still who I was four years ago, and that I’m still vulnerable and still need people so much. There’s parts of myself I’ll always hate, and something I’ll always want to cry about, no matter what new form it takes the shape of. I’ll still worry people will leave me when they realize what I really have to offer/ what I am. I’ll still lie in bed and think about drawing scratches on my wrist with a pin.
Yes I was a wreck, but I was also more grounded and so much kinder and more thoughtful. Past-me was driven by everything she was feeling to do so much more than I would even consider now. I was that way for a reason, and that because I was that once, the capacity to be that again will always exist inside of me.
I just need to stop drawing dividers between the sections of my life. And maybe I’ll actually try to read through more old diary entries, who knows.