For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be the kind of person that journals. And for as long as I can remember, and have evidence of, I start a journal intending to write everyday only to abandon the habit and journal in less than a week.
At some point I came to accept this and I stopped getting upset at myself for ‘failing’ to journal, but I still periodically wish I could keep a journal (like this year for example)
This thought has been spurred on by a recent discovery of a journal I don’t remember writing. It was maybe 10 entries about my life as I went through grade 12. I laughed and grimaced along with my younger self as I relived what I had written about, but the last entry ended on a sour note. I was distressed about the future. My parents were moving in the summer and I didn’t know where I was going to go and how it was going to work out with my cats, my living situation, my finances, and which school I was going to go to.
Of course it has worked out. My cats and I found a place to stay and I’m attending the school I always wanted to go to, but at the time, I had no idea about where I was or what was going to happen. I felt sympathy for my younger self and proceeded to write a follow up entry where I basically outlined all the important—good and bad—life events that had happened in the two years since.
What I encountered in the journal was something I always do when I start a journal. I address the journal to “my future self,” or “future Chiante.” Occasionally, throughout my entries at various points, I talk directly to my future self and ask her questions and give her reminders. This has led me to reflect on the concept of “future Chiante.”
I noticed while reading my grade 12 journal that I felt like an intruder reading a letter addressed to someone else. But the journal isn’t addressed to someone else. It’s addressed to me. Future me. The question then becomes, am I Future Chiante yet? When does Future Chiante arrive? What is the appropriate span of time between Past Chiante, Current Chiante, and Future Chiante?
Did I become future Chiante by responding to the last entry of the journal in order to let Past Chiante know that everything worked out? Writing the entry felt like continuing a story abandoned by someone else at the best part, and I had this unique ability to finish the story, knowing what was about to happen.
I think my inability to accept my current role as Future Chiante stems from the fact that the Future Chiante I imagined while writing is this far off adult of a Chiante who has a family and a career and is sorting through old boxes from her youth.
And yet, future Chiante from my grade 8 journal was more like the 20-something Chiante who was still figuring out life—which is very close to where I am today. Is it possible for me to be future Chiante for some journals and not others?
I have a journal from one of my high school English classes where we were instructed to write a letter to ourselves ten years in the future. I’ve refrained from re-reading the journal because the letter isn’t addressed to Chiante of 2018, it is addressed to Chiante of 2026. In that case, I can’t be future Chiante yet.
This has been a curious discovery and reflection for me this week. I’d like to hear about your thoughts on journaling. If and when you journal, who, if anyone, do you address the journal to? Have you ever encountered the intruder syndrome I’ve discovered while reading my journals? Which past self are you the future of right now?