I never have had a diary. I used to always want to have a diary, because it seemed like any admirable literary character had a diary. Resolving to become more like a literary heroine, I became a collector of blank diaries. My elementary school craft box was littered with a small collection of them: one with a group of puppies on the cover, another one I bought from Walmart with my allowance money that had a “secret invisible ink” pen with a blacklight to boot.
All of them sat unused, and eventually were sold at a family garage sale.
I could never bring myself to write in the diaries. I think part of me worried that one of my brothers would find it, and would discover my secrets. Looking back, I didn’t even have secrets that I could hide, so I think the reason the diaries sat blank is because I didn’t want to write the wrong thing in them.
In this fear of worrying about writing the wrong thing, I wrote nothing at all.
I’m now almost 22. I think now is a good time to stop worrying so much about writing the wrong thing. I don’t want to proceed in life with the same overly-cautious attitude that left so many of those diaries blank in the bottom of my elementary craft box. I don’t want to always prepare, but never get out there and try. I don’t want to be too tied up by the opinions of others to move forward. I don’t want my life story to be a set of blank pages about all the things I could have done, but never did.
The story of my life really isn’t mine to write. I’ve learned that lesson over and over again as my mind made up its own plot, only to discover a different scene playing out before my eyes. But the story of my life is mine to be honest about. It is mine to tell. It is mine to share with the people I love, and with people I don’t even know.
This year, I’m not making a resolution per-say, because I already have made a commitment. That commitment was made in the extremely overheated office of my academic advisor back in December, an environment that physically felt like an incubator of ideas.
There, in the strange incubator, I committed to writing more. In fact, writing more will hopefully yield the product of a small book of essays in the first half of 2016 as part of my capstone project for college. It is my last task to fulfill my major’s requirements, but more than that, it is the accountability I need to keep on creating now and into the future.
This kind of creating looks like a fun business, but it is often characterized more by red pen and rejection than it is golden seals and recognition. This kind of creating, in reality, is a tiring business and a lonely one, too. It demands attention and time away from people, and it is certainly more than a mystical encounter with “the muse.”
But I have to believe that this kind of creating is worth the fight. On days when I don’t feel like designing, or planning, or writing, and on days when the inspiration isn’t always there, I have to believe that the discipline required to continue to create is worth it.
There is more to write, more to uncover, more to create, and maybe there is someone out there who will stumble upon the words on the page and think, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one…”
So with that, I have committed to create more in 2016. I’m not really going to start a diary, the ones with the little lock and key, but I am committing to the principle behind diary-writing.
I am committing to write even though I might write the wrong thing. Even though it will be hard along the way. Even though people might hate it or never read it.
I am committing to this because it scares me. I am committing to this because fear is best confronted head-on, and not in the shadows of the “would have, should have, could have.”I am committing to this because it challenges me, and often the things that challenge us the most are what grow us the most.
I’ve got 22 years worth of blank diaries to fill, secrets to spill, memories to recall. So here we go.
Here’s to making a crack at a decades-old resolution, because it’s better late than never! Here’s to creating more in 2016.