The last few days, I conducted an archeological dig through a bunch of my old writing–some of it from as far back as 7th grade. It proved to be an emotional roller coaster–thankfully not the kind that go upside down, because I’m not puking as I type this. Yet, it sure yanked my gut around. It was like reading a piece of literature where the audience knows something the character doesn’t. For example, the irony I felt when I found the blog entry where I’m rationalizing my choice to stop taking my anti-depressants. Writing about how healthy I felt, I knew I wouldn’t fall back into the depths of despair I’d been in. I had learned too much about the illness to let it take over my life again. Keep in mind about six months after I wrote that, I was in an even deeper depression than I could have imagined. Reading it felt like I was watching a scary movie where the killer was hiding in the shower, and I wanted to shout, “Don’t do it!” while the character turns the knob to the bathroom. God, I hate that type of movie.
While there were plenty of embarrassing parts, I also felt compassion for my younger self. Some of my young reflections really impressed me. I was sharing excerpts with one of my best friends, and she said, “Geez, no wonder you were a lonely kid. Who thought about these things at those ages? My God, who are you?” I laughed, but felt validated in a way that I never had been. I think that is why I’m so quick to favor children I observe off alone and thinking a lot (when I work with children in the summer). I understand they are extra sensitive and perceptive, so I try to love and encourage them with everything I have. It, hopefully, helps them gain confidence while also helping me make peace with myself as a child. As a child, I had overwhelming amounts of guilt and self-hate. It’s a shame to think about, because I’ve recently realized what a thoughtful and sensitive kid I could be.
The most shocking of my old writing was a poem I wrote in 7th grade. It was an assignment for an English class called, “I Remember.” We had to start each line of the poem with “I remember…” The poem itself is not any good (I mean, let’s be real, I was like 12?) Yet, there were several things that shocked me. First, I talked about how time was moving too fast, and I felt like I couldn’t control it. I also reflected on how I complained of being bored as a kid, but I would give anything to have time to be bored. The real kicker comes when I talk about how I used to be afraid of failure and hated how hard it was to succeed. Apparently at the wise age of twelve, I’d realized that failure is necessary to succeed and success only feels rewarding because it is so challenging to attain. I read that, thinking, “My God, Child, you aren’t gonna even BEGIN to know that in your heart until everything you’re terrified of happens when you’re 21.” This realization made me accept that despite having “failed,” or at least having failed in the eyes of my old self, I’m still afraid of failing. Why? Apparently life is a series of cumulative exams. Just “knowing something” once isn’t enough. When I feel anxious about the future, I will have to pull out the flash cards I’ve been studying since 7th grade. Brushing up on life, preparing for the next test.