If you grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, before Internet access was widely available, you had far more control about what you shared with your friends. You could write anything you wanted about your day and still leave all the embarrassing parts out.
If you had one of those cute diaries with tiny pages, a fluffy pen, and most importantly, a lock on it, you probably wrote down all your thoughts (even the awkward ones!), and no one besides you knew your secrets. You likely also stuck your diary in your favorite hiding place, where none of your siblings could read it. Yeah, those were the days!
In 4th grade, like many other girls, I kept a diary. I wrote out all the secrets I didn’t want anyone else to know – including the giant crush I had on that one guy from The Wiggles who always wore a red shirt. I’d spend hours talking about how cute he looked on TV and sharing other potentially embarrassing stories from my days as a 9-year-old.
One day, my teacher announced that we were each assigned to bring in one of our favorite things for a class “getting to know you” project. I went home, searched through all my favorite things, and decided that I was going to bring in my diary. Don’t ask me why I thought sharing my diary with the whole class was the best idea ever, but to my 4th grade mind, proudly bringing in my glittery, pink diary seemed like the perfect way for my classmates to get to know me.
I was only going to read one part, and I stuck with the plan. My imagination impressed my classmates, and they thought my diary entries were really creative. But then, I had to leave class to use the restroom, and that’s when everything went South.
When I returned to class, I realized I had forgotten to close my diary – big mistake. My teacher had gone next door for a second, and because she was gone, a boy from my class had started reading my diary out loud… in front of the entire class.
The whole class laughed at me, making fun of my Wiggles obsession. It wasn’t any secret that they thought I was weird and immature. I felt like my popularity had gone down the drain, and the humiliation of it all was hard to swallow.
Still, that day, I learned an important lesson that I still carry with me today, at age 23: You should never feel ashamed of who you are, even if you have interests that others don’t understand. Loving every bit of what makes you who you are is so much more valuable than trying to conform. Yes, other people might not understand you, and yes, they might make fun of you for your interests or values, but staying true to yourself is the most beautiful thing you can do.
Love yourself enough to express yourself without fearing others’ reactions. Stand up for who you are, always stay true to yourself, and you will go far in life.