I'm joining my #Gr8blog buddies as we post letters written to our younger selves. However, instead of writing a letter to my younger self, I'm sharing excerpts from my younger self through a journal I began decades ago as an as an insecure adolescent. (Gulp.)
It was startling to remember that I addressed my journal as a letter to older darlin’ --- ME! How did I know that capturing my thoughts like this would offer incredible insights that shaped the adult I am today?
It’s not easy for me to read Teen Cat’s journal. She (I!) poured her heart out. And I can’t tell you why she wrote in slang, but I transcribed excerpts, warts and all, as written. The entries bring back my painful high-school years as if they were yesterday, when my middle-class upbringing and father’s occupation as a middle-school teacher put me on the wrong side of the popular clique tracks in an affluent Connecticut suburb.
The timing of this journal, started days before my youngest brother’s birth, also offers context for my confusion and seeking solace in journaling. I hope my journal demonstrates that teen angst can lead to developing a fairly well-adjusted adult, and those fears are just part of growing up.
There could be the basis for a coming-of-age book here, too --- if I can find the rest of my journal stashed somewhere in the attic and steel myself to page through so many tender memories.
Please read on to meet Teen Cat. Then visit links at the end of the post as my blogging buddies post their letters in our Letter to a Younger Self #Gr8Blog hop.
November 1, 19xx
Page 1 - Introduction
Let me tell you about myself. I’m 15 ½ years old, 5’-1” tall, 113 lbs, brown hair and eyes, a big mouth, but that’s not all. I’m starting this account of all these events for two main reasons.
1. I can’t tell everybody my problems and
2. I’ve got to have some way to let out my emotions.
When you finish reading this, older darlin’, if you do finish this and there is an end to these unrelated tales, you can finish the but that’s not all business yourself.
Oh, I suppose that in a few years from now when I read this, I’ll think what a dope I was to feel like this. Remember, older darlin’, in all your wisdom, don’t knock us younger kids. We have feelings, too.
Where did it all begin? I suppose I started the change from a quiet, shy, fat, intelligent girl into a noisier, still shy, and not so fat and not half as intelligent young lady. No, I dislike that word intensely- young lady. I’m young, but a lady sounds so old! What am I really? I’m not that young, but certainly, in the eyes of parents, I’m a mere babe in arms.
Parents…Now there’s a word. If there’s any one thing or any people, who have complete lack of understanding, they’re it. “Do this!” and “Do that!” “What did you say? I’m your mother, not she!” Know what I say? To h…. with parents!
I gather you think I’m angry. Well, you’re right! Parents think this new generation is so wild and rotten. They go around citing statistics on juvenile crimes, teenage car accidents, and illegitimate pregnancies. Got news for ya, all you parents: it’s all your fault! Who can kids turn to if they have problems? Parents? Don’t be crazy!
Had a usual Sunday. Went to church and Sunday school. I was really quiet today. Muriel kept askin’ me what was wrong. I really think this thing [journal] is helpin’ me.
Oh yes, I saw Scott [at church] today. I think he thinks I like him. Maybe I used to and I could, but not now.
Why do I make such an ass out of myself? I’ve got a big mouth, but it gets me places. Is it good for helpin’ ya be popular? Maybe I should try bein’ quieter.
I wonder what everybody’s opinion is of me? Do they call me giddy or boy crazy? I don’t want that. They must say, ‘Oh, God, here she comes again!” Maybe I should try to act older, not too terribly old. Or I just would smile and shut up and don’t say or do crazy things?
I’m in a snot mood. First of all, I went off my diet. Yesterday, I went shopping and bought a black sweater that doesn’t fit. The only good thing that happened was “The Diary of Anne Frank” was on Saturday Night at the Movies. It was absolutely terrific. I couldn’t stop cryin’ at the end when the Gestapo came to get ‘em.
Lynn came over yesterday, and we went for a long walk and got lost. Then she gave me a perm last night I guess it came out OK, but my hair smells of that Alberto VO-5 junk I put on it to make it less frizzy.
I have no desire to go to school tomorrow. There’s nothin’ for me to look forward to. Maybe if I fixed up my hair really pretty and wore something really sharp, I’d feel a heck of a lot better. My black sweater and knee socks with a gray kilt should be okay.
I just decided to have a mad, passionate, silent unrequited crush on Vinny E. Now wait, maybe I could just go to school for once and not like any fella, couldn’t I, older darlin’? Sure, why not?!?! Go to school with a free mind. Maybe I’ll just happen to like somebody and he’ll like me back.
That’d be really sharp!!! What ya say to that, older, darlin’? Think I could?
Yes, indeed, insecure, desperately searching for identity and belonging, Teen Cat. Yes, indeed. You can do that and tons of even-more awesome things. Sending hugs, kisses, and oodles of affirmation that you’ll turn out just fine.
Your Older Darlin’
_Thanks for stopping. For more letters to a younger self, please visit these #Gr8blogs today.
Auden Johnson, Dark Treasury
Auden encourages her 15 year old self: "You may not see daylight now, but it's coming."
Corrina Holyoake, Venturing Into the Unknown
Listen to your heart!
Julie Gorges, Baby-Boomer Bliss
Julie shares ten sage pieces of wisdom with her younger self. She is assured that what she reveals to a teen Julie about her future life will astound her – but in a good way.
Leigh Shearin, Leigh Shearin, Writer
Listen to your inner beach bum, younger self!
On 1 February, more #Gr8blogs share their letters to a younger self:
Carmela Dutra, A Blog for Your Thoughts
Who says being stubborn is a bad thing?
Karen Emma Hall, Kid LiteratureBlogspot
Karen crafts a letter to her younger self AND a fable about a chicken. Free coloring page, too!
If you're interested in hopping onto Letter to a Younger Self blog, just link your post back to me or any of these #Gr8Blogs, and we'll give you some blog love in return.
Please join the conversation in the comment section.
Writing a letter to a younger self is surprsingly cathartic.
What would you tell your younger self?
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1/21/2016 12:28:01 pm
Oh Cat, how I could relate! I've kept diaries since I was 12 and still have all of them today. Some of my entries sound much like yours. Actually much of my first YA novel, Just Call Me Goody-Two-Shoes, came from those journals. So interesting looking back on our younger selves. Thanks for sharing this. I have a feeling you will help many teens - and adults as well come to terms with their past. Glad you left your comfort zone and shared these intimate moments with all of us.
1/22/2016 05:53:43 pm
Julie, even as an adult, it's comforting to know I was not alone as a teen. Journaling is such a powerful way to deal with feelings and turmoil. I need to have a read of your first YA book. How cool that it's based on your journals!
1/22/2016 05:55:40 pm
Thanks for reading along with Teen Cat and me, Carmela. This was a tough post for me to resurrect, and I especially am grateful for your company.
1/21/2016 02:52:00 pm
Aww Cat, my younger self would have loved to hang out with your younger self. Boy would we have fun he he. I loved that you showed us some of your extracts from your journal. What a confusing time it was as a teen! We would have made awesome Aunties for them ;) I think it is safe to say despite all insecurities we have turned out just fine.... Big hugs
1/22/2016 05:57:56 pm
Aww, Auntie Corrina! I wish our younger selves could've hung out together. We would've had a grand ole time. And yes, I agree....we turned out ok despite all the teen turmoil.
1/23/2016 08:41:07 am
How wonderful!! Love the photo of younger Cat! It's also so reaffirming that the people I see as so inspiring, successful and capable have insecurities too, and started out gawky, lovesick teens, as well!! Great post, really loved it, Older Darlin' !!
1/26/2016 10:26:17 am
Oh my, Leigh! Was I ever an insecure, searching teen! Re-reading my journal reminds me of just how much. Thanks for taking the journey with me back in time.
1/25/2016 05:33:33 am
I love this. Its so rewarding in the end and therapeutic. Hard enough being a teen. I encourage mine to journal for many reasons. I'm going up share this with them. Great piece
1/26/2016 10:28:38 am
Your kind words touch both Teen Cat and me, Brandi. Please do encourage your teens to journal, and thanks so much for sharing mine with them! It is a great way to let out feelings in the moment and have a look-back to see how far you've come.
1/25/2016 08:54:54 am
I love that you are doing a teenager blog! Especially with having 2 teenage girls right now, my question is while reminiscing from your past and putting it in blog for are you going to modernize it for today's day and age of teens?
1/26/2016 10:31:20 am
Jessica, to clarify, I'm thinking of writing a YA book based on my blog, and not writing a blog for specifically for teens. Sounds as if writing a tee blog might be right up your alley -:D
Jessica Greenleaf AKA Mommagreenleaf
1/25/2016 09:01:37 am
Also I too recently found some of my old journals and my girls where in awe cause I had drawings that I had done, and poems but nothing fancy I thought but they loved it and it gives me the same idea to maybe do either on my regular blog or Facebook blog. Do you think I should to give younger versions of us a different perspective on life and the way things where in general back in the 80's/90's? Any comments or ideas would help. Thanks in advance!
1/26/2016 10:36:40 am
I'm so glad you journaled and kept them, Jessica! Doing a blog for teens is an awesome idea! Would teens be your target readers? Or parents? I'd chose the focus depending on your audience; however, there is value in showing how adults today felt back then. You have a lot of energy and passion on this topic. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
Cat, I really enjoyed your article! It hit home with me also. To be that age again was a painful time. So happy you had great people around you to help you as I did also. Our mom and sister had to work on me with the self confidence on a daily basis. It's nice to know that I wasn't the only one going through these times alone. I didn't journal like you wrote about but I was a big collector of poems, pictures, and stories that I posted on a board to view each day.
1/26/2016 10:43:10 am
Rosie, your collection of images and words is a wonderful way to think about feelings. If only we knew then what we've learned now, but that's what makes adolescence such a challenge! Thanks for sharing your experiences, too.
1/25/2016 12:01:43 pm
I enjoyed reading your journal entries. I kept journals when I was a kid. Now you have me wanting to dig them out. I, too, found myself asking why I acted that way..I still do it actually. Not as often though. Too bad we can't reach through time and hug our younger selves.
1/26/2016 10:45:23 am
Dig out your old journals, Auden! They hold keys to who we are today. I adore your idea of reaching back in time to hug our younger selves. (That's a great time-traveling novel plot thread if ever there was one._
1/25/2016 01:42:25 pm
I have thought about journaling but I never can get my thoughts on paper. I have a hard time putting writing. Guess that is why I'm a reader not a writer. :)
1/26/2016 10:49:56 am
Sandra, I'm delighted that you're a reader and understand that journaling isn't for everybody. The key is to find a constructive outlet for feelings. I've seen continuing ed classes for folks who want to try their hand at journaling. Others collect stories and images that speak to them.
1/29/2016 12:50:10 am
This was cool to read. Reminds me of some Judy Bloom type stuff.
1/30/2016 09:04:41 am
Emily, so pleased you enjoyed your read. Over the moon if you find any semblance to the great Judy -:D.
Karen Emma Hall
1/29/2016 02:56:23 pm
Whata wonderful idea to do it as a diary!
1/30/2016 09:08:05 am
Secret codes, Karen! I'm impressed. My journal was a life line for Teen Cat when she was going through a tough patch. You are spot on comparing a journal to a learning journey. I hope you can find your diaries!
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