From a young age and throughout my life, I’ve kept diaries. I look through them every now and then, if I’m feeling nostalgic. I have a total of seventeen that have survived the years of journaling (maybe I’ll post a picture soon). I remember the ache I had to fill up a book of my own and the satisfaction I felt from finally having my first journal. I even read non-fiction books about famous journals and diaries, how people utilize the craft of journaling, etc. I was fond of the Dear America and Royal Diaries series when I was younger, and found solace in The Diary of Anne Frank as I grew older.
During my research of the journaling craft, however, I was shocked to find that writers like Franz Kafka would request their precious writing be destroyed, or as in the case of playwright Carlo Goldoni, even destroy it themselves. How terrible, I thought. How could one be that ashamed or disgusted by his work? Within what other reasoning would someone suffer that kind of loss (or induce that suffering on a world of readers who would benefit from such writing)? What if Anne Frank had destroyed her diary for fear that critical eyes may read it? I was shocked the first time I read the book, to see that another girl (my age at the time) had written words of the vulnerable, personal content I myself was too afraid to put down on paper.
I learned from reading that diary that we’re all human, full of awkwardness, ugliness, and insecurities. No diary should ever be destroyed, I thought, or any other personal writing for that matter. I’ve been pondering this mindset over the past few days, however, and affirmed today by tearing out twenty pages from an old journal and ripping them to shreds that I do not hold that belief anymore.
What changed? I did. The people around me. My thoughts about people. And my understanding of the most important person in my world.
What about all that change? All that I learned, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, recorded in pen? It would do more hurt than good, I concluded. So the elimination of those words commenced. Take a look at this girl’s thoughts on destroying her diary (I pulled a screenshot from Yahoo answers).
The support she received from other users surprised me:
Yes destroy it.
I did that to my old diary and dont regret it one bit
burning things is always fun. plus it would symbolic. the end of your old life
And one more:
…delete…things that remind you of the past you dont like. It really does help!!!
Have you ever destroyed personal documents? Would you ever consider destroying your writing? What would be your reasoning behind it? Share your thoughts in a comment below.