When I was 8, I helped my Mum read my sister’s diary. Not a proud moment. Some years later, when I started reading Sweet Valley High, Elizabeth Wakefield inspired me to start keeping a journal. In fact, she’s the original inspiration behind my cream-coloured bedroom, which took me another 20-odd years to achieve finally.
Just like the cream-coloured bedroom, keeping a diary too was a hard act to follow. (Sidenote: I need Google SVH and SVU to find out what they’ve been up to after I outgrew them.) Elizabeth Wakefield set the bar high, but her Mum wasn’t an ex-spy. I could have the top-notch security system on my diary, and my Mum (have you met my Mum?) would still crack through it. She was a hacker before hackers became a thing. I think that’s part of the numerous perks of not being the firstborn. We learn from their mistakes. We hide our boyfriends, vegetables, bad company and secrets better after learning what works and what doesn’t. We’re forgiven more easily too, as the parents tend to blame the firstborn for setting a bad example.
So I kept a locked notebook hidden underneath my desk in my classroom. It was a risk, but a chance tweenage me found worth taking. Looking back now, I think it only lasted a couple of months. But it helped me understand and express the emotions I wasn’t allowed to have at home. Namely: Crushes who weren’t crushing me back, how bleeping cute Nick Carter was, friends who broke our nerd code, and stuffs like that. I wasn’t aware back then that these experiences brought disappointment, hormones-fuelled excitement, shame, and sadness – valid emotions that I was going through; but wasn’t equipped to understand or handle.
I hate to break this to you, but being a positive person doesn’t mean you never will feel like crying again, or that your heart won’t break again, or that grief will never suffocate you again. Many assume that being a positive-minded person includes ignoring or stifling negative experiences or emotions. But that’s not it. It takes self-awareness and a deep commitment to living this life with a positive mindset every day. Aside from my sister’s diary, I have now browsed through 100s of journals belonging to Revel’s customers – at their invitation, of course. I’m always amazed by the fact that years into it I’m still awed every time someone offers to flip open their journal and share their creative expressions with me. Drawing is a skill that I haven’t mastered, and someday when I finally have extra time on my hands, I’d love to commit myself to master the art of it – but for now? I’ll settle with these beauties to bring my journal entries to life.