This woman created her own sustainable candles during lockdown
This woman created her own sustainable candles during lockdown

Jennifer McShane

Exhausted with unexplained pain? You could have haemochromatosis
Exhausted with unexplained pain? You could have haemochromatosis

Grace McGettigan

The Howth train attack represents a lawlessness that makes me fear for my daughters
The Howth train attack represents a lawlessness that makes me fear for my daughters

Amanda Cassidy

The jump from one to two children: “I was afraid I’d used up all my love on our first baby”
The jump from one to two children: “I was afraid I’d used up all my...

Amanda Cassidy

How to elevate your picnic game, according to the Vintage Tea Trips team
How to elevate your picnic game, according to the Vintage Tea Trips team

Shayna Sappington

You can now book your appointment to shop at Penneys
You can now book your appointment to shop at Penneys

Jennifer McShane

There’s nothing quite as believable as the story you tell yourself, about yourself
There’s nothing quite as believable as the story you tell yourself, about yourself

Niamh Ennis

Image / Editorial

Diary Of The Half-Formed I


by IMAGE
18th Aug 2013

blank
blank
While moving house recently, I came across the 20-odd diaries I have been carting from home to home for the past five years. They begin when I had just turned 14 and are composed of ludicrously microscopic handwriting, reminiscent of nothing so much as the tortured recollections of a serial killer hurriedly committed to scraps of toilet paper, and later sold to creeps on eBay. Obviously, this rediscovery meant a hot Friday night spent indoors poring over excruciatingly detailed accounts of my teenage life. What else can you expect from somebody so self-obsessed that I return time and time again to my own Facebook profile pictures, like a dog to its own vomit, trying to imagine how they appear to the outside world? It was comforting, sitting there surrounded by all my different selves- concrete, just barely legible proof that I have in fact experienced growth as a person, and am not quite as hysterical and self-important as I once was.

Admittedly, it was a struggle to get through the 14-15 era, when I appear to have taken the decision to start a diary merely to impersonate Holden Caulfield as amateurishly and transparently as possible. I’m not just talking here about the entirely fabricated and baseless world-weary cynicism, the jaded dismissal of the enjoyment of the Christmas season as false and dishonest, nor even the hard-hitting truths I laid down about how empty the inner lives of the good-looking girls in school must have been. I mean to tell you that I went so far as to pick up the linguistic habits, to the point that the word “phony” appears a good fifty times in a single diary. Quite something, for a fourteen year-old chubster in knee socks who had never encountered a single American human.

Things start to get a bit racier at 16, which I made sure to record by studiously cataloguing every drink, chemical and boy that passed my lips for two years. I also helpfully describe each outfit I wear in terms I learned from (and which are exclusively employed by) Sunday Style supplements. Amidst the indexing, there is also inevitable misery, lots of it, and described in painstaking, intricate prose. I have never taken to anything as naturally and as contentedly as I took to describing and poking at my own unhappiness.

In my later teens and early twenties, the writing takes on a terse, shorthand quality, like:?“S. called again last night. Not sure as to intentions. Meanwhile, B. as elusive as ever.”?I can only imagine that I found some romance in this World War One era-aping verbal economy, some relief from the pompous verbosity of my early teens. I can see myself trying to be an adult in those later books, trying to coolly bypass the emotional hand wringing that had characterised the previous diaries. I can see the personality not fitting, not really slipping on fully from the way I could never be quite as dispassionate as I would have liked about new boys, from the train tickets and cinema stubs I couldn’t help sellotaping in there, from the way the word “lover” never stopped sticking in my craw (as it should for all right-thinking people).

There is a great furtive pleasure to be had in returning to all these half-formed identities. Writing a diary has always been for me an attempt at creating a workable narrative to hang my life around. I grew up doing little else but reading stories, and always especially liked great sprawling, dense works of art that take in a person’s whole life from birth to death. It was unavoidable that I would spend all these hours trying to make my own experiences fit that mould, and of course, unavoidable that I would fail and end up with the straggly collection of lists, names and ineloquent melancholy that I have. Still, it’s just barely visible, if you plough through the tens of thousands of words of tedium- the slow emergence of a more truthful, less shaky self. And if I’m reading back over that last sentence in a few years, thinking I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, I hope I give myself a break. Be nice, future Megan.

Megan Nolan @Megaroooo