The journal

Maybe it was because I was preparing to attend my niece’s high school graduation ceremony. Or maybe it’s because my 25th college reunion is coming up this weekend. It’s probably because it’s May, and that seems to be the time when I start feeling nostalgic. Or at least, more nostalgic than usual.

Last week, I started reading through the journal I kept from December 1983 through March 1985. This may very well be the most valuable 5-subject college-ruled document that anyone, anywhere, owns. (OK. That I own.)

It is an excruciatingly detailed record of what can probably be called the most life-changing year of my life. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the proverbial reset button that I pushed in September 1984, when I started my freshman year of college, truly does mark a shift in direction and set me on a path that I continue to follow to this day. Which isn’t to say that what came before is irrelevant. However…


It’s been a few years since I’ve embarked on a full-immersion journal-reading binge. Time will tell if this will turn into one of those, but since last week, I have relived the last few months of my high school career the first few weeks of my college experience.

As I continue to process how that transition to college life truly did change me in some profound ways, let’s begin with a few off-the-cuff observations about who I was nearly 30 years ago:

1. A writer in training, with a propensity for using multiple exclamation points, talking about herself in the third person, and recording particular events in excruciating detail. Even when they did not warrant it.

(As an example, a transcription from a journal entry dated August 8, 1984, in which I recreate a conversation with a boy I’d recently graduated high school with but barely knew:

J. and I were headed toward the car when I heard a voice yell, “Amy!” We were in the parking lot—I turned and saw R. walking toward the entrance with S. I said, “Hi R.!”

He replied, “How are you doing?”

I said, “OK, how about you?”

He said, “Pretty good—surviving!”

We agreed how nice it was to see each other, then he went into the restaurant and J. and I climbed into the car.

And it continues. Really???)*

2. An insecure young woman who sought the approval of others to validate herself, even while instinctively holding fast to a moral code instilled by parents and 17+ years of church participation.

3. Obsessed with boys, but with little-to-no firsthand experience.

Part of what makes this particular journal so interesting to me is how it clearly (albeit excruciatingly) chronicles the end of one chapter of life and the beginning of the next. There’s a lot to process here. Stay tuned for further observations, anecdotes, reflections, and musings.

*I can’t begin to express how grateful I am that I grew up in a pre-social media era. When I read through some of what I wrote back then, and how I wrote it, I am beyond thankful that I didn’t publish these thoughts for the world to read, even in 140-character postings.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Looking forward to reading more…

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