By: Gabriela Yareliz
Some days ago, my boyfriend and I were walking, and we made a pit stop at my apartment. I needed to relieve my tiny bladder, and we were hungry and ready for a meal.
I remember I went and used the bathroom, and when I came out, I saw my journal, where I had left it, on the couch next to my boyfriend with a pen stuck in it where I had left off. My eyes immediately (and sort of frantically) went to the journal.
I started to think about why it bothered me so much that I had left my journal in plain sight. It’s not like there is some deep dark unknown secret in there. (Though I am of the philosophy that someone’s writings should never be read without permission. I respect boundaries and privacy). Anyway, I am pretty much an open book.
Someone reading my journal would not reveal me to be some sort of psycho. But then, as I thought about it some more, I realized something. These are the pages where I process things. Sometimes, I am angry, insecure, overjoyed, excited— it’s like my feelings come out on steroids on those pages, and reading those pages wouldn’t be a reflection of who I am. They are a brain dump. Sometimes, they are a reflection of who I don’t want to be. (Especially when I am angry or hurt).
Those pages reveal how I process my emotions and every thought that enters my head that I find worthy of putting down on paper (and not all of the ones I find worthy of exploring are great— I will admit that. We are humans).
I realized that if someone read my journal, they wouldn’t really have the most accurate sense of who I am. Who I am is what I do with all those emotions and how I am after I process it; whether I act on something or not, or how I act on something.
This made me think of all the writers, artists and public figures whose letters and journals we have. We pretend to know so much about them, but maybe we don’t. Maybe, there is a reason Hemingway requested that his letters and such not be published after his death. (His wife did it anyway. I would come back from the dead and haunt her for that). Maybe Hemingway knew that a reader would assume they knew the him after reading it, when in reality that wasn’t him. It was perhaps how he, as Joan Didion says, found out what he was really thinking, not who he was.
We pretend to know people and want to know more about them by examining that which we think is not revealed. When in reality, a person does tell us who they are, every day, we just need to pay attention.
We are not each waking thought or emotion that rushes through, but the synthesizing and decisions that come after all the ink has been spilled on the paper.