In looking for an old wicker desk I knew was in my room somewhere, I stumbled upon an old journal I got years ago as a Christmas present. I went through my phase of journaling as most of my friends did. This journal, as all my other ones, remains unfinished. However, the cool thing about this journal is that it gave prompts for the writer to respond to. Reading through them, I am astonished by how much I have changed….and how much I haven’t. The next few weeks, before I head South for the summer, I thought I would share a few. My first one is from April 1999 – I was fourteen years old. The prompt was “What are the things that MATTER most to you in your life right now?”
The things that matter most to me now are school, my family and my friends. Seems pretty self-centered I know but when you’re a 14 year old growing up in a small town in Central New York, what else is there to matter? Good grades are your ticket out of here so school is top most. Your family is there 24 hours a day and you love them so of course they matter a lot. My friends are there all the time my family isn’t there so they also matter because almost as much as your family, they shape what you will be when you’re older.
On reading this over today, I was struck with a few things. One, my briefness. I don’t think I have written anything that short since then, or something with so few commas. Sadly, it sounds like an essay for a Regents exam. I hope my writing has improved. Secondly, my discontent on being in a small town. It was an attitude I carried until the minute I left for college. Then all of the sudden, where I came from was an integral part of who I was and my missing pride when I was growing up came in droves. The importance of school has shifted over the years – in grad school they tell me grades don’t count – yet, my insistence on the importance of my education has only grown stronger as I get older. One thing that has not changed is my emphasis on family and friends. They were a major shaping force in who I am today and I thank heavens every night for who I was blessed with to help me this far. Overall, I was almost mad at my fourteen year old self for being moody it seemed. I vaguely remember writing in this journal, lamenting my boring, safe, privileged life. It’s laughable now but I guess that’s how you’re supposed to sound at fourteen.