Introducing My Teen Diary

Screenshot from a My Password Journal commercial

In the early 2000s, Mattel released a toy called My Password Journal. The thick box toy came in pink or purple and used very modern spy technology. To access the spiral bound notebook inside, a user had to know the password, and be able to speak it in the exact voice as the owner.

My Password Journal profited off the idea that young girls desperately wanted a safe place to house diaries that held their most intimate thoughts. During a time when almost all of your life took place in public and was controlled by adults, a diary was a place to talk openly about crushes, sure, but also to freely explore your developing individuality. A personal journal was where you were supposed to figure yourself out, and should those private thoughts be discovered by a parent or younger sibling, you could be punished or, worse, ridiculed for them.

My Password Journal promised an extra measure of safety and the added joy of a secret password ritual. This technology, of course, was rudimentary. Not only did you have to remember your password to open the locked box containing the diary, but you had to say your password exactly the way you had said it before, which is almost impossible.

We change. We grow. We become unable to whisper “sock monkey” or giggle “Mary Kate and Ashley” with the exact tone of voice we recorded three days ago. Just as our memory of the way we said that magical phrase fades and morphs, so does our understanding of what we wrote in our diaries and what those moments meant. In retrospect, we can see our sophomore homecoming date in the context of the girl he dated senior year, and the college he attended. Our hatred of biology becomes solidified by a college course.

But there’s something in those early thoughts and memories that have both an ability to completely transport us back to our first feelings — be they of exuberance, heartbreak, fear, or joy — and allow us to feel those feelings genuinely with the knowledge that maybe they were wrong. Or maybe, those feelings were more right than we could have known.

My Teen Diary is a weekly series that will publish here, on Medium, every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Its purpose is to allow contributors to think, reflect, and examine thoughts and feelings from their teenage scribblings and imbue them with the perspective they’ve gained today.

Our first essay — launching tomorrow — is a beautiful examination of what it means to leave home. Over the course of the next year, we hope to publish heartbreaking anecdotes about sexuality, brilliant examinations of personhood, and funny stories about life and living it.

To submit to My Teen Diary email us at myteendiary545 [at] gmail.com with a pitch and a gif. As of now, we are unable to pay our writers, but hope to change that soon.

xoxo,

Kelsey McKinney & Hannah Smothers