I’ve kept a journal semi-regularly since 1998. Well, except for most of 2001, whose absence I can’t really explain:
They’re kind of a weird resource, because they’re definitely biased towards the bad parts of life. It’s way more cathartic to vent about why you’re mad or sad than record in loving detail funny conversations with your friends, so I really think anyone reading them through would probably think I was manic depressive and really unpleasant to be around. Which is totally not the case, right?
I started the project of transcribing them into searchable word documents December 27, 2004. I know the exact date because, duh, I wrote this in my journal:
12/27/04: I’ve begun typing in my journals starting with sixth grade and have decided that I was pretty much an idiot.
Harsh, High School Patricia. I mean, look at this:
5/26/99: . Lisa is a BUTT! She stole my new birthday pen and wrote on the wall with it. Then she tried to put it in her trapper and messed up the feathers. I found it in math. It didn’t work because part of the paint got stuck in it or something.
Trapper keepers, feathered pens, AND calling someone a butt in all caps? Sometimes I just can’t take how awesome I have always been.
Anyway, now that I’ve completed transcribing about 10 years and 12 journals worth, I decided to make some exciting charts! Simply counting the number of times a word appears isn’t really accurate since some journals are a lot longer than others, so all these figures are based on the average number of instances of the word per page per journal. Steven’s overall total was 0.6 mentions per page, which is pretty good since I only met him in Journal 7.
Looks like I was in the worst mood in 2004. I wonder how many of those are just “I hate college applications” over and over. Journal 8 was during the first year of college, so I’m sure that’s all “I love college! None of my professors take attendance!” or “OMG diary, I love the servery so much, I’m sure I will never get sick of amazing recycled cereal dessert it is THE BEST!”
Like any period of change and excitement, first year of college also marks a dramatic increase in uncertainty and stress:
The sharp climb in worry at Journal 12 represents the 2 months I spent at home before going to Scotland for study abroad. It’s also the time period I was most prolific, since I didn’t have much to do but write pages every day about how freaked out I was to be going, how being gone for a semester would probably mean I would lose all my friends, and how–I kid you not–I was probably going to freeze to death.
1/24/08: I don’t know who Rachel and I will live with next year! How am I supposed to figure this out an ocean away? Whatever, I guess it won’t matter when I freeze to death walking to Scottish class. And then there’ll just be all these guys in kilts laughing at me while I can’t move because I’m encased in a solid block of ice, at the mercy of the harsh highland yeti bears.
Yeah, Scotland totally did not live up to these expectations. Unfortunately. Because I would love to get a picture with a Highland Yeti Bear.
In the midst of tracking instances of worry and stress, I also recorded what category of thing I was freaking out about to make this colorful pie chart:
Three journals from now “the future” will be dwarfing the other pie slices, just wait.
And, since this is the kind of thing I do, here is a wordle made from the transcripts of all 12 journals:
Although now that I think about it, most high school drama I recorded probably went down in French class, so that makes sense. Individual journal wordles after the cut:
See if you can find your name! I bet you can’t, though. I’m fairly self-absorbed.
Next: Second Grade Journal