It’s fascinating how things come back around in our lives, undulating like ocean waves. I read a lot of books in 2016 and I was having trouble keeping track of them all. Originally, part of the purpose of this blog was to provide a catalog of what I read, but that only works if you take the time to write reviews of those books (which I obviously didn’t last year). So I decided to buy a journal and keep a book log in it. But then I remembered a set of blank books that I bought years ago and pulled this volume off the shelf to see if I had used it.
Lo and behold, I had used it–briefly–in the summer of 1993 as a book log! In addition to the introduction, there were only three entries. The first book I still don’t remember even after reading my thoughts on it. I recognized the title of the second book and remember reading it, but can’t tell you the plot. I remember scenes from the third book and even though it resonated deeply with me, I’d completely forgotten the title and author of it. I was thrilled to find those lost details here. I loved reading my younger self’s thoughts about these books, which often told me more about myself than about the books. It’s also intriguing to see how we are the same yet different.
My younger self and I both love books. The idea that “Books fall open, you fall in” is just as true for me today as it was 20 years ago. Neither of us can resist an extended metaphor; I am confident that if I had found this book blank, my 2017 introduction would contain phrases similar to if not the exact sentences of the one I wrote in 1993. While it has been inconsistently acted upon, the desire to leave some kind of written record of my life’s experiences has been constant through the years. And I still tend to decorate my handwritten words with some type of design.
But the designs are different. My younger self strove for precise symmetry and uniformity in my designs. When I looked at my 1993 graphic for inspiration to decorate my 2017 heading, I thought, “It would be exhausting replicate that! Let’s try to make something balanced, but a little more free-flowing.” The handwriting has changed a bit, too. The earlier script is so tiny and careful! My letters now are larger, faster, and I dare say, bolder.
I think these stylistic expressions reflect the broader differences of who I was then and who I am now. I held myself in, so careful, so afraid of making mistakes of any kind when I was younger. Perfectly executed plans and performances were the goal. Strict conformity to rigid ideals was the focus of my thoughts and actions. In 1993 I hadn’t even realized that my perfectionism was a problem yet.
Now, I’m a recovering perfectionist. Failure is still scary, but not terrifying the way it was back then; I move on from my mistakes faster and offer gentle encouragement instead of mentally berating myself. My goal is better balance and more graceful flexibility now. And while I am still cautious and reserved in some situations, I am more confident of who I am and more willing to go after what I want. I’m less rigid in my judgements, too.
I am so grateful for this window into my past! I’m encouraged to see that I really have made progress, because sometimes it seems like I’m either treading water or swimming laps in the same pool. And I am proud of my younger self for doing the best I could with what I understood at the time. Good things were accomplished and beautiful things were created. I’m proud of myself now for the same reason.