On old journals and old selves

Serious question here: what do you do with your old journals?

Every time I move house, I'm reminded (urgently, heavily, annoyingly) that I really need to make a decision about what the heck to do with the million boxes' full of old scribbling. Years of journals and notebooks and looseleaf papers, boxes of soul-spillings that I'd be mortified for anyone to ever read. Scrawlings that have followed me from Nebraska to Delaware to Scotland to Madrid to Florida to not one, not two, not three, but four different (small, urban, closet-space-short) homes in California.

At some point you have to say: really, dude? Why am I continuing to schlep around these old selves? These wrinkled, painfully-earnest windows into another moment in time? What's the point? And what am I holding on to here?

I had this dilemma on the brain already a few weeks ago when someone shared this compelling piece from Danielle LaPorte: "Why I burned my journals & celebrate my insignificance." It's really quite powerful:

Yes, right? I agree so wholeheartedly with what Danielle says about living in the present. Why revisit old selves? Unless you wanna use those old selves as fodder for a book or something, yes? Because, honestly, I don't even recognize the person who wrote some of those old entries. (So, why's it so hard to actually do it?)

Here's the rest of LaPorte's piece:

I love her emphasis on insignificance. How true it is, eh? This might just give me the kick in the pants I need to really burn these puppies and lighten up, figuratively and literally.

What'd you do with yours? Do you still have boxes tucked away in a dusty corner that you just can't quite summon the guts to sit down and sort through? Or did you burn yours years ago and regret doing so, wishing you still had a portal into the mind of your 19-year-old self? More importantly, do you, too, need a tumbler full of bourbon on the rocks in order to bear actually reading through them?


Kirsten said…
Oh man, I totally relate to this. I have a stack of notebooks that were my journals in HS and part of college, and I am so torn on what to do with them. (The exception is my journal from my semester in Scotland and my long trip to Norway, which I'll definitely keep.) On one hand, they are SO dramatic and embarrassing, but on the other hand, there's some pretty darned funny stuff in there, as well as some really good memories of things that were significant in shaping my identity. I'm super nostalgic, so I worry that if I get rid of them, I'll regret not having them to look back at in my old age or show my grandkids. Of course, then there's the irrational fear that I'll die young and people will look down on me if they clean out my stuff and find them! Meanwhile, they continue to sit in boxes and move around with me...

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