In the margins of my diary, I spotted a mysterious handwriting.
“Don’t get hung up on the jerks,” it said.
I put my hand to my mouth. My fingers shook in horror and my heart did a somersault. Those were not my words. That was not my handwriting! Someone had read my private journal—the journal in which I wrote about having a crush on a jock at my middle school! As a closeted queer 13-year-old, having another living soul see my diary was one of my worst fears. I thought I would rather pass away peacefully in my sleep than have my intimate thoughts be known.
It’s wild how things have changed. Today I am 28, and I have blogged in detail about my sexual acceptance journey like it’s no big deal. I also am openly transgender. What’s more, I am even known to take pictures of pages of my diary and send them to friends. I am almost uncannily OK with having people know the truth about me. Sharing my embarrassing confessions is actually fun!
How on Earth did I get here, from having once been so afraid?
Well, I did not overcome my struggles overnight, that’s for sure. Making friends at all—much less being real with them—used to feel like an advanced Harry Potter magic. This introverted muggle didn’t get it.
Even when I later made progress, I felt frustrated with the slowness of my journey. For example, a modality called the Lefkoe Method changed my life when I was 17. It cut my shyness in half and did wonders for my self-confidence. Yet, it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be fully comfortable with my gender. I wanted the courage to be a gentle vegan advocate in this non-vegan world. And I wanted to write… now… but whenever I started putting out blog posts, I got so self-conscious I deleted everything!
Over time, things got better. I gained social experience, and found like-minded community. I benefited tremendously from society’s changing attitudes towards LGBTQ+. I even connected with a vegan life coach who showed me the power of being unconditionally listened to and encouraged (a story I hope to tell soon in another post). By the time I turned 27, I had been working animal advocacy jobs for a few years, and everyone in my life knew me as she/her—woohoo!
Still, there was another level of openness that I longed to step into.
Yes, I went to parties. I had plenty of acquaintances. But I felt out of place. I kept trying to fit in, yet couldn’t. Meanwhile, as much as I loved promoting plant-based foods as a Brand Ambassador, my job got old. My ultimate hope was to spread kindness in my own way, rather than as a puppet to a corporation. Above all, this scribe at heart longed to—you guessed it—write. Writing was my natural language, my nirvana. I wished I could do it for days on end.
And I wished I could write for eyeballs other than my own.
It’s no walk in the park to go from clutching one’s diary with an iron fist, to letting people into your inner world with open arms. But you will get there, I would say to reassure my past self if I could talk to her. Take one small step today.
COVID-19 was a disaster for everything but my writing dreams. When I lost my job to the virus and couldn’t be with anyone, I suddenly had all the time in the world to play around with pen and paper. I was lucky enough that a friend introduced me to Medium.com, and later I landed on Peaceful Dumpling as an additional oasis for my spirit. Sharing my writing with the public healed me and exalted me. What I didn’t expect was that it made my relationships a lot better too.
Connecting with other bloggers, I realized they were among the best types of friend for me. We get each other—our hunger for introspective expression. We also get to know each other, in extra richness, by reading and supporting what the other person writes. It tends to go beyond what we say in a live chat, right?
While some of my Facebook friends might be put off by what they find on my blog site, that’s exactly the point. Letting other people view what I write helps me be more transparent—just like my gender transition did, but even more—and that attracts the right friends for me.
In the words of Steve Pavlina, “If you want the right people to recognize you as a quality match, you must also give others the opportunity to reject you as the most repulsive wretch on earth.”
After some months of writing formal articles, I even started a diary publication. It was a place where I could reflect on my day, and share how I was feeling, without needing to make every post a well-targeted piece that was trying to make a particular point. The point was that everyday life is worth celebrating. The point was that you can come as you are, with all your ups and downs and your mixed emotions. You don’t have to be in presentational mode every time you write something others will see.
As a lifelong diary writer who had done it since age six, I was back to my roots.
In spring 2021, I even turned my journaling habit into an unusual way of staying in touch with people AND being productive at the same time.
I would write down all of the actions I did throughout my day, and send a photo of the log to a friend. This motivated me. For instance, one morning I binge-read a friend’s Facebook wall, and I let her posts inspire how I spent the day. Before bed, I sent her a pic of my diary (which mentioned her) to share with her what I was up to and to compliment her positive influence in my life.
Whether with an online audience, or a trusted friend, I share my diary for fun. So many of the thoughts and experiences I used to keep to myself, now have a place to go. I still keep some private notes, of course, but it is a relief to share so much of my heart with others.
Whatever parts of yourself you are afraid to share, I hope they find a way to be more than just a “Dear Diary” secret, locked away in some dusty old notebook you pray no one finds.
You deserve to be seen. You deserve to be loved. Not everyone will be fond of you, it’s true. Yet the more you share who you are, the more chances you give yourself to bond powerfully with those who absolutely, absolutely cherish the real you.
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Photo: lilartsy via Unsplash