Anyone who has kept a journal, diary, or sketchbook probably has felt that the worst thing that could possibly happen to that item is to be found—especially by the kind of person who would wave its top-secret pages around a place like, hmmm, the internet. We are about to be those people to our younger selves, but we think they will forgive us. First up, Maggie Thrash:
This was written in 1995, when I was 10 years old. To this day, my journals are mostly about who I think is cool (or not), and other people’s drama. —Maggie
I wasn’t much of a diary keeper as a kid, but I did love to draw in my sketchbooks. My sister, brother, and I made up and drew a whole town that we called O’Bobbie, Iowa (population 63). We named all the people and made a map with the streets where they lived. It was so funny, but I can’t find it. This drawing, which I made when I was 10, is similar, though it’s basically an advertisement for Pizza Hut. —Beth
This diary page reveals that, as a college freshman, my main beef in life was with my future adult self. The myself who I am now. Yo, irresponsible Lauren, I agree that those Nick Cave lyrics are cool, but lay off. That lawyer shit is harsh. I don’t even exist yet! —Lola
This was from when I was 13 and incredibly boy-crazy. That year’s diary was filled with elaborate details of insignificant interactions with every boy I crushed on (mostly from afar). —Marie
In this entry, from September 2008, I talk about three boys on one page—I mean, calm down, Naomi. And that’s before I mention a dream about a “gorgeous boy.” I was mainly crushing on J., a guy two years above me at the boys’ school opposite my all-girls’ school, so I didn’t really have a chance. It’s funny because four years later, when I was 18 and able to go to the pub, I ran into J. one night. It ended the crush once and for all because he was a bit of a sleaze. It was disappointing—he wasn’t what I’d wished for when I was 14. —Naomi
I’m real angry with myself for throwing away earlier diaries, but this is an awful highlight from 2009, during my early teen years. Eughh, acne. —Caitlin H.
I’ve kept a diary since I was six years old, but my absolute best diary entries came from middle school. My writing was often accompanied by illustrations of fantasies or real in-class dramas. In eighth grade, I was one of the most boy-crazy people I knew, but I liked making fun of boys as much as I loved fawning over them. You can read the rest of my diaries from that time on Tumblr. —Suzy X.
This is the front page of my diary from 1990, when I was 10 years old. Harold James Whistlefrink is the name I gave the diary itself, because I was a weirdo. —Emma S.
I actually remember the guy I’m talking about in this entry. I had a crush on him. He was a year above me, and he was nice to me in a polite sort of way. Since boys mostly noticed me to laugh at me, that was enough for me to develop a crush on him. I got my friend who was in his class to ask him out for me. It didn’t go well, though he was kinder than anyone else at that time in his rejection. —Ragini
When I was a senior in high school, I took a journal-writing class. We were given composition books and supposed to write 60 pages to get an A. I filled a notebook and a half, and then kept going. For an assigned entry, the teacher asked us to write a letter to ourselves four years in the future (because we would maybe be seniors in college by then). I didn’t reread this then, but it’s a trip to see now. In response to 17-year-old me: I did successfully move out, but I dropped out of that college, Antioch, that I thought I would love so much to start over at a school near my hometown in a creative writing program. I am still best friends with Katie, but there was a year when we didn’t speak at all, and it was mostly my fault because I was drinking heavily and pushed her away, but also we had to learn to communicate. That tattoo I got was totally terrible, though I ended up covering it with a tattoo that matched one Katie also got (we did it together) in 2009. —Stephanie
This green-inked page is from my journal at 17. My mom and I were moving into a much smaller house in a neighborhood I disliked, and I was obviously very stressed out that my best friend Steve had been responsible for racking up my library fines. (An appalling $12 worth, which the same diary later reports.) —Julianne
This collage is from one of the sketchbooks I kept between 2008 and 2011. —Minna