Happy Mass Public Humiliation Day

Posted on 27 September 2010

First, the Rejectionist is to blame for this post, thanks to her uncontest about humiliating childhood journal entries, which was pretty much made for me. From the time I was about 8, I kept meticulous, borderline obsessive diaries detailing every thought, dream, fear, insecurity, etc. I ever had. I filled a total of 16 journals from elementary/middle/high school alone (see photo). I dug them out this weekend and read through as many as I could before succumbing to crippling shame and humiliation.

Many of my diary entries are what you’d expect from a young girl — they focused on boys I liked, my friends and our petty dramas, more boys, and then more boys. (I basically considered myself a feminist from the age of 11 on. I was also somewhat of a tomboy. But neither of those put a damper on the boy talk.) I did, however, write often about my dream of becoming an author, way back before I even remember wanting to be a writer.

Not everything I read was hilarious. Some of it was distressing or sad or troubling. But the excerpts I managed to round up before the shame became too paralyzing are pretty entertaining. I regret to say they are all true aside from a few redacted names (after all, I’m probably Facebook friends with some of these people). Enjoy.

The entry where I’m not quite ready to admit that I actually like boys (age 10):

Boys. I hate ’em. I used to be in love with [redacted] in second grade. Now I hate him. I used to like [redacted] in third grade, but now I hate him. The only half-decent boy is [redacted], but it’s not like I’m in love with him or anything. I just have a tiny, tiny little crush on him, that’s all.

The entry where I attempt to use a semi-colon but also misspell “writer” multiple times (age 10):

Writing is my life too. I’m going to be a wrighter when I grow up. When I play with my friends, I want to write it down; make it a book. I have a million stories stashed up in my head for books. I sent in a short story to this place. I might get it back in a little book filled with other kids’ stories. More important, they will give me advice on how to improve my wrighting.

The entry where I contemplate the many types of love (age 12):

I CANNOT believe I wrote that last sentence! I DO NOT love [redacted]! I don’t even know him! I think I’m IN love with him, but loving someone and being in love with them are two different things.

The entry about my attempt to write a book. Also, I guess I would have liked it if someone threw me a surprise party (age 12):

I’m writing a book. It’s called, “Eat Your Soup, Jamie!” which I know is a very weird title. Anyway, I’m not telling anyone about it. They’d just say, “What, a 12 year old writing a book? Ridiculous!” Well, I told one person, but that doesn’t count. After all, she’s my best friend.

The book is about stuff I know about. Jamie, the girl, loses her best friend, Sherry, to a bunch of snobs. I sure have a lot of experience with that! Besides her problem with Sherry, she will be thrown a surprise birthday party and a lot more. My book might not be publishable (although I hope it will!), but it will certainly help with my writing career!

The entry where I half-heartedly threaten suicide and then criticize my sentence structure…which actually looks fine to me now (age 13):

I am SOOO depressed. I am absolutely, positively, 100%, totally MISERABLE!!!! Get the picture? We have had 7 full days of school, and I’m already considering suicide. Not seriously, I guess, but the thought of going back to school tomorrow is enough to make me want to fling myself in front of a speeding, flaming truck. (Run-on sentence!)

If you are worried about my mental health at that point, fear not. Just a few entries later, I write about my disappointment in discovering a DJ wasn’t as cute as I’d hoped:

I feel disappointed, sad, wistful, guilty, and a little mad. Why? Because I saw [local radio personality] on TV today. I was so excited this afternoon ’cause I knew he would be on TV for a few seconds.

He’s ugly. And I feel REALLY bad and REALLY guilty about saying that. But, I mean, I just had this vision of a really cute guy, and then…And I’ve had this crush since May! That’s 6 or 7 months of wasted time! And how am I supposed to listen to the show anymore now that I know?

The entry where I wax poetic about how complicated my 13-year-old life is. Also, I was totally grown up, you guys:

I can remember the days when things were simple. When I had the time to run around outside, and to explore. When time didn’t matter. When I had all the time in the world to stare at the pattern of the clouds fading against the pink sky. Life was so simple then, and it made sense.

I didn’t have a long childhood. Mrs. [?] says some people lose their childhood sooner, depending on how they live and how they were raised. I think I was pretty much mentally grown up at age 11. Why, I was even going through one of my old diaries from when I was 10 and 11. Even then I felt like I wasn’t a child anymore.

I want to be a little kid again, without a care in the world. I want my life to focus on animals and toys and bedtimes. But those times are gone. Forever.

The feminist entry (age 13):

Being a feminist, however, does not mean that I hate men. My countless crushes account for that.

The hippie entry, where my IQ mysteriously drops 50 points (age 13):

If I could go back in time, I’d go to the 60’s. And be a hippie. Sure, hippies did major drugs most of the time. And my mom said they were dirty. But come on! They only wanted peace, love, and equality. They went to happenings, painted rocks, and wore cool clothes. My idols.

Well, I want to be a combo of the Save the Earth Girl/Hippie. I think we need to save (in this order)

  1. The Earth
  2. Rainforests
  3. Whales
  4. Other endangered species

I would put Rainforests first, but I guess they need a place to grow on. Like the Earth.

The entry where I’m crushing on a dude who works in the meat section of a grocery store (age 16):

Okay, that’s it. I’m DONE. I am SO pathetic. Meghan and I went to [grocery store] tonight and [crush] wasn’t there. At least I’m pretty sure he wasn’t there. Damnit, I’m a sad situation! I mean, is my life so void of romantic possibility that I must continue dragging friends to grocery stores to see some guy who flirted with me for just one night? God it’s pathetic. I like him, but I refuse to keep wasting my time. I won’t be able to forget him though.

The entry about girl power…which quickly devolves into thoughts on future dating prospects, or lack thereof (age 17):

I think it’s very healthy to have a friend like Adrienne. After I got off the phone with her, I felt so good about myself. Talking to her tonight was like, inspirational. I honestly felt like I don’t care if I never have another real relationship with a guy until I’m 26. I feel good about myself and who I am. Already, though, that feel-goodness is slipping away. Like I worry I just cursed myself up there (“oh no what if I don’t go out with anyone else till I’m 26?!”) Ha-ha but anyway.

The heartbreaking entry where I describe a dream I had after learning my mother had cancer (age 17):

I just remembered this dream I had last night about my mom. She and I were in the van, and we were driving and there was a lake ahead. She wouldn’t stop but we were getting close to the water. Then she was in the passenger seat. I was in the back and she was all weird and zoned out and I kept wanting her to put it in “park” so we’d stop but we went right into the water and kept going and she was so weird and so not there. It freaked me out. What does this mean?

Other notable entries:

  • After complaining that my brother always read my diaries, I confess in my journal that I found his and read part of it. Unfortunately, “it was mostly about football,” so I stopped.
  • The time I made a list of all the people who said they liked my new haircut, including my teacher, where I noted, “unless she’s lying.”
  • The time I considered why I was delaying studying for my learner’s permit test: “Maybe I subconsciously don’t want to drive because it’s a symbol of adulthood and I’m not ready to leave my sheltered childhood … Or, maybe I’m just too lazy to crack the book.”

Final thoughts: Thank god Facebook didn’t exist back then. “Eat Your Soup, Jamie!” never did help my writing career. I love that I described myself as “a sad situation.” I was such a nerd. I was also amazingly normal.

I leave you with some charmingly creepy/disturbing notes I put inside my journals to ward off would-be diary sneaks (from the younger years, ages 8-9):

19 responses to Happy Mass Public Humiliation Day

  • Laurel says:

    Love it! I love the feminism all tangled up in boys. I had a “my life is so miserable I might kill myself and run away” entry in one of the lost volumes. It gives me big sad that I can’t go back and read it now.

  • Maine Character says:

    Great stuff. And I totally get the radio guy deal – I’ve been the same with authors. “Wait – no, he CAN’T look like that! He was supposed to look like Captain Nemo!”

    Stunning dream there, and love the feminist entry – QED.

  • Aeriale says:

    These entries absolutely cracked me up! Thank you for making my day so much brighter! :)

  • Joann says:

    So much awesomeness here. Threatening to bring charges to anyone who reads your journals = fabulous. I couldn’t quite bring myself to read the journal I kept after my mom was diagnosed with brain aneurysms and later died. Not ready for that quite yet. Thanks for sharing a bit of your childhood!

  • Vicki Rocho says:

    I loved these entries! I didn’t have a whole lot of boy angst until later because I lived in this really small town and there were only 10 or 12 boys in my class so there wasn’t much to choose from by the time you eliminated those with girlfriends and those who were repugnant (for whatever reason).

  • Sarah W says:

    You rock—and I suspect you might be my lost twin.

    I’m now remembering my first crush on Garrison Keillor’s voice. I was heartbroken, until I grew up enough to crush on his talent.

  • J. A. Platt says:

    Being a feminist, however, does not mean that I hate men. My countless crushes account for that. I know people now who still haven’t reached this stage of enlightenment about feminism.

    And I love the warning notes on the journals (esp. unless it is published after my death, wich I Doubt.).

  • the rejectionist says:

    So much priceless!!!!! So much!!!!

  • Love these. Very funny, except for the dream about your mother which makes me sad.

  • “… unless it is published after my death, which I doubt.” LOL FANTASTIC.

    Ruminating about lost childhood and “simpler times” seems to be a common theme in a lot of young people’s journals… mine were FULL of that sort of thing.

    These were a great and amusing read. Thanks for posting :D

  • Mia says:

    These are BRILLIANT! They made me smile because I approached my diaries with similar enthusiasm. I used to have those kind of keep out notes but they’d be IN THE MIDDLE of a whole chunk of text. LOL.

  • Elizabeth Poole says:

    This was sooooooooo adorable! I was so like you! I was angry that no one would take me seriously as a 10 year old, and then a 12, and then 15…yeah, those were the days. We were TOTALLY grown up back then. We were. Really.

  • Averil Dean says:

    Ahhh, this is lovely. I was a poet (and I use that word advisedly) as a teenager. I had apparently learned alliteration in my creative writing class – and it was ALL I learned.

  • Erin O'Brien says:

    Possibly the best blog post of all time.

  • Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I think I was too ashamed to reply until now. But I wonder what it says about me that I’m almost more embarrassed that I couldn’t correctly spell “which,” “consequences,” or “writer” as a child. Hm.

  • lisahgolden says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this link on my blog! Compared to me, you WERE grown up at age 11. I was still tracking the weather and the music I was listening to. And writing in some now long-forgotten code because I suspected my sister read my journals. (I found out later that she did.)

    These entries are great. I get your feeling of humiliation, but how cool is that you’ve captured yourself at these ages. It reminds me that I MUST give each of my kids some kind of journal for Hanukkah and encourage them to write.

  • TP says:

    Just browsing your blog, and I come upon this gem of a post. The childhood diary entries are cute and funny and all that, but what really impressed me is that even at a young age, you wrote, “more important,” rather than the more common misuse of that phrase, “more importantly.” THANK YOU for getting it right, and I hope you still are. ;)

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