Dear Diary

July 10, 2013

Who’s really reading these things?


In the last few months there have been a couple times when I have considered submitting my resignation from the weekly diaries here on Rookie. I’ve had an irrational urge to quit something that is important to me just because I’ve recently been told that there are a significant number of people I know (but I am not close to) who read my diary regularly.

I don’t have a problem with acquaintances’ reading what I’ve written here per se—but I worry about their motives. I wonder whether they read it out of genuine interest or, since they because they may gain a tidbit of information or meagre gossip about me or about anyone I might mention here. I can’t stand the idea of having to face people without knowing what they may have read, what they know. I don’t really want my private thoughts to preempt my interactions with people. When you meet someone new, it naturally takes a while for you to choose to tell them certain things. But here, they can learn so much that I haven’t willingly and specifically offered up to them. What they know is out of my control. It’s not the most convenient way to socialize.

The words I write here mean something to me, of course, but they are also separate from me. I don’t wish to be judged on just this diary, for it is quite hard to express all aspects of my personality in a few hundred words a week. But it can’t not be a significant part of me: When I look back over past diaries, the memories they evoke amaze me. I’ve had the sweetest messages from strangers telling me what a relief it is to have someone to relate to, especially regarding feelings of anxiety. But there are certain people in my living zone that I don’t want privy to the emotions that I try to be so honest about in this space. There are people who don’t deserve that kind of access. But what can I do? Having no control over who can access bits of my past is the very nature of the internet and of having one’s work published—so I tell myself over and over again.

The reason I started writing was to avoid feeling like this, worrying about people’s interpretation of me. Writing is for me, a way to make sense of my feelings. I never feel so coherent or confident as when I write my thoughts down on a page. It’s always been the most comfortable mode of expression for me, something I don’t have to think too hard about. Now it has become uncomfortable because I am struck with paranoia every week as I sit down to write. I can’t help thinking now about who might be reading this. My social spheres are starting to merge, and that has caused me some anxiety. I worry about revealing too much, about being laughed at—every insecurity batters me in the face. I don’t believe that anyone is reading this with malicious intent, but all those eyes have turned what used to be the safest place for me into yet another place where I worry.

Perhaps none of this would bother me if I had higher self-esteem. I can’t bear the thought of rereading some of my recent diaries, so the thought of someone else seeing them, and judging me for them, makes me cringe. I am not sure whether this is a warranted reaction or whether I should accept that once your work is published, who reads it and what they come away with is completely beyond your control.

Caitlin and I met last week. That was a much more successful merging of my Rookie world and the “real life” that tends to be much harder for me (though I pretend it isn’t). Caitlin is the first Rookie person I have seen in the flesh, and spending time with her helped this virtual world feel much more tangible. I felt like I’d known her for years. There was never any of that difficult beginning stuff with new friendships, because our mutual understanding had already been established. She is a gem. I felt I was with my kin—someone who truly understands and can share so many of my experiences.

That is what the whole of Rookie often feels like to me. I was 16 when Rookie was born, and it was a really shit time in my life. Writing for the site was the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think outsiders realise how close the Rookie staff are—they have collectively helped me enormously in developing and growing up. I hate to imagine the person I’d be without them and without Rookie and without being part of Rookie. And that still outweighs everything else. ♦


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  • TessAnnesley July 10th, 2013 7:30 PM

    omg naomi’s entry gives me so many feelings – rookie has just helped all of so much, readers of course and staff too, it seems! OMG GROUP HUG I LOVE ALL OF YOU

  • Tiger July 10th, 2013 7:49 PM

    Caitlin all of your illustrations are so amazing ok.

  • Tavi July 10th, 2013 7:57 PM

    Oh Naomi! Please do whatever you feel most comfortable with. I do think that’s something we all deal with in waves. I remind myself that there are so many degrees of separation: the difference between what I feel and what I write, the difference between what I write and what people actually read, the difference between what people read and what they take away from it. You’re so right when you say it’s out of your control — but it’s that way for anyone who creates anything, or even anyone who SAYS anything to even like their MOM, so you’re not alone.

    At times it feels worth the worry and at times it doesn’t. Decide for yourself and know you can always change your mind. You always have a place here, you know that. <3

    • Eileen July 11th, 2013 12:48 PM

      I agree with this completely! Feelings and stuff aren’t ‘always’ entities, they are obnoxiously temporary, and no matter how much you want to force yourself to feel the way you once did, it will never be just like that. Which is why you should never quit until you’re positive that’s a ‘forever’ feeling. And especially a person with anexity, which PASSES. These ‘eyes’ your feeling hit in waves like Tavi said- this one I know first hand. *SIDE NOTE this doesn’t mean you have to enter every entry with the thought ‘get over it, these people don’t want to hear you whine’, because that’s also not true.. We like to hear what you’re thinking, so you shouldn’t sensor, I’m just saying the whole time I read this, I thought ‘NOOOOOO, DON’T QUIIIIT!!’ <3

  • EmmaS July 10th, 2013 8:03 PM

    aw I always like reading Ruby’s diary, I’m a bit disappointed.

    • KatGirl July 10th, 2013 9:02 PM

      Me too, I hope she’s OK!

      • Anaheed July 10th, 2013 11:28 PM

        She is OK! She just wasn’t able to get permission from the people she tried to write about this week.

  • runitss July 10th, 2013 8:10 PM

    Oh my gosh! I can understand feeling weird about posting because it can feel worthless or fake or impostor-y and that whole syndrome is such a foggy, cloudy, molasses-y mess to deal with. I really hope you continue to trek on through it, or take a break and come back if you need it! Just, please continue doing these! Rookie Mag is the first thing I’ve found in so long where I feel like there’s a brimming, vibrant creative energy! Please continue! & KEEP ON TRUCKING! <3

  • alienbabe July 10th, 2013 8:38 PM

    God, Britneys post resonated with me so much. I’ve spent most of my summer in my bed watching Netflix. I might go insane if I don’t do something soon.

  • GlitterKitty July 10th, 2013 8:42 PM

    Caitlin, your illustrations are so amazing. Not just this one but all of them. When I first saw the one for this week, I thought it looked chaotic and couldn’t really understand what was going on with all the colours and shapes. But then when I looked again and I realized that it perfectly represented going out dancing and I think it also looks really cool. I think you’re very talented and creative. And I looked at your blog and it’s pretty cool too. Please continue doing what you do!

    (I hope you don’t think I’m a stalker… I don’t mean to be)

    • Caitlin H. July 11th, 2013 4:59 AM

      GlitterKitty thank you so so much I really can’t tell you how much your kind words mean to me. <3 <3

  • Sophie ❤ July 10th, 2013 9:16 PM

    I didn’t have any preferences this time- I loved all SO MUCH!

  • o-girl July 10th, 2013 11:28 PM

    Britney- Oh god I’m totally on the same page with you. It’s weird, because I’m not really sad or have been sitting around or thinking about a boy, but you’ve still managed to capture the essence of summer’s bittersweet feelings. I hope I meet you sometime in the future (being a Brooklyn, public school kid myself, only a grade younger, it seems likely?).

    • Britney July 11th, 2013 12:30 PM

      Definitely! It’s a small world, after all. But I’m glad that I was able to do that! It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Before summer began I really idealized it but now that it’s finally here, I’m happy for the freedom but I’m also just like, “….What now?”

  • whyamidreamingwhenimstillawake July 11th, 2013 12:55 AM

    Britney-your birthday is 2 days after mine! That’s really weird in an awesome way! (It’s not the same year though. I’m not posting that on the internet. n_n)

  • Caitlin H. July 11th, 2013 4:56 AM

    Naomi you are the gem/car park fortune telling crystal. xxxxxxxxxxxx

  • maxrey July 11th, 2013 12:00 PM

    I love everyone’s entry so much, but especially Katherine’s!

    I seriously could quote the entire thing, but the part about the ghost crab and the bit about her brother sounding like a TV show were my favorites. <3

  • Chloe22 July 11th, 2013 12:01 PM

    Britney, my summer is just as boring. I have celiac and am stuck in the house with a stomach ache, eating Gluten Free Gushers and watching The Golden Girls. Definitely not the stereotypical high jinks teen summer :P

  • Alienor July 11th, 2013 12:15 PM

    oh britney, how you describe summer in your first line is exactly how i feel about summer as well.

  • sparklybella July 11th, 2013 2:47 PM

    Naomi! I hope you feel better soon. I just wanted to say you’re truly an awesome human being and that what others think shouldn’t be an impasse for you to stop writing. :) Lots o’love. xx b

  • pinnedtothepage July 12th, 2013 4:45 PM

    happy birthday, britney!

  • loonylizzy July 12th, 2013 11:19 PM

    naomi – here’s hoping you feel better soon, and that you realize what a huge inspiration you and your writing are to us rookie readers. please don’t stop writing!

    katherine – woo, georgia (my home state). also, i completely understand the feeling about vacation. it turns me into a moody vegetable that throws cheetos at anyone who tries to get within 20 feet of me. glad you had an adventure with your brother though. beautiful entry!

    britney – i find that summer often brings back unwelcome nostalgia. when your brain isn’t as occupied it tends to wander into places you’d prefer it didn’t go. i hope you enjoy the remainder of the season though, and happy birthday!

  • moonshine28 July 13th, 2013 4:42 AM

    Naomi, as someone who has very low self esteem and cares a lot about what others think of me I can relate to you. But KEEP WRITING don’t let those people stop you from doing something love! You are an amazing writer xxx

  • NF4awesome July 13th, 2013 11:00 PM

    Naomi, I completely understand your want for some distance between your writing-life and your “real” life. I hate not knowing how much of an opinion people already have about me before I meet them. Sometimes when I’m with people it seems like I spend the entire time either trying to re-create myself for them, or break out of the box they made for me.

    Really, though, I wanted to comment mainly to tell you that your diaries are my favorite thing on Rookie. I’m not exactly a Rookie veteran (I started reading sometime late fall I think), and the diaries were some of the first pieces I read. Everytime I read one of yours I felt like I connected with you so much– we don’t have identical issues or feelings, but having someone to relate to made my world a little brighter during what was a particularly rough year for me.
    Whatever your decision, thank you for being so personal in your writing :)

  • er1976 July 14th, 2013 9:18 PM

  • Laryssa July 25th, 2013 1:02 AM

    britney ! this story basically describes me this summer. i totally relate to every single word you wrote. although is this a boring summer life, im really not complaining. this is awesome !