It’s amazing to look back and see how you grow as a writer. But more on that later. First, a story.
One of the traditions of my high school’s marching band was giving personalized gifts to the graduating seniors at the end of the year indoor concert. After my final season, one of my good friends bestowed upon me a notebook covered in cats. He offered the following explanation: “We’re giving you a journal because some things don’t belong on the internet.”
Recently, I hung out with my old high school buddies. Sitting around a bonfire reminiscing about times that we really don’t miss, the marching band senior gifts came up. I had completely forgotten the incident. It was one of my fellow graduates who remembered my gift and the above explanation. How he recalled such a specific quote, I have no idea. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
When you start blogging at the age of fifteen, you make some blunders. And, often times, those blunders affect people. Enthralled at the freedom of calling a corner of the internet my own, I was not always wise with what I shared on my blog. (Mind you, those were back in the Blogger days.) Although I always tried to be careful not to give names–anonymity is really important when publishing personal information–keeping my drama off the internet sometimes didn’t happen. What’s worse… keeping that drama away from the eyes of my friends was an impossibility.
Often times, I’d turn to my blog to express myself in times of conflict with friends. I’d vent a bit, then go on with my life. But then my friends would find out and that’s when things got messy.
At the time, I didn’t think much of my senior gift. In fact, I thought so little of it that I didn’t even remember it happening. But it’s amazing what hindsight can do. I now see that there was a bit of a barb to the gesture–that my friend was being funny, but also critical. He didn’t like what I had to say in such a public arena and used the situation as an opportunity to get me to express myself in a more healthy, private place. (The sad thing is, I didn’t take the hint.)
As much as I hate to admit it, that friend was right. Four years later, I agree with his statement wholeheartedly. Some things DON’T belong on the internet. Self-expression is a wonderful thing, but what one sees as nothing but blowing-off-steam soon blows out of proportion. What is meant as a personal rant suddenly becomes incredibly public. There’s a line and, if you’re not careful, you’ll slip across without even noticing.
I’ve grown a great deal as a blogger over the years. I wish I can say I skipped the rough patches, that all was smooth sailing, and that I never crossed the line (excuse me for all the cliches)… but that’s all a lie. When you write young, you make mistakes. Looking back, I regret the hurt I caused my friends. But what’s done is done. Anything I do now can’t change what is cemented in the past.
The only thing you can do is grow from your mistakes, watch your words and best of all, learn to love your journal just as much as you love your blog. And never, ever, stop writing.