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I have been going through the same set of questions, as we are soon to downsize from a 3-bedroom home to a one bedroom cabin. At the age of 65, I am methodically purging what I can live without. I agree with all you wrote, as I have journals with such personal information, I would not want my children to read them. My solution, in my to do box, is to read them, copy what I do want to share, then dispose of them. I have a "bio" file I am working on, that I hope will shed light on who I was to any future generation that is curious. I add to it as inspiration hits me. Sherry

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I like the idea of a bio file, Sherry! Might have to steal that one... Good luck with your own purge; I found the experience incredibly nostalgic and sometimes what I rediscovered genuinely surprised me.

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Sherry, I think this is a good idea--to copy the parts you want to share into a digital file.

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Another option is to get rid of the old diaries (which it sounds like you want to do), so you have control of your story and legacy...but only after you have create a sanitized version of your past; a personal memoir of sorts. "The Story of Me Before I Met Your Father" type of thing. Perhaps there are portions that would be of interest to those who know and love you, and would like to see another side in order to know you better. Perhaps there are parts that you do in fact want to let others know about your inner workings. It can be cathartic to be brave with your vulnerability. No masks and unapologetically open with nothing to hide and with no shame about letting others in...just do it on your terms so history reflects a version of you that is your story. I personally would love to be able to read through some of my great grandmother's personal reflections and inner musings. I suspect it would connect me more with her on a personal level, whether it was her written word or a voice recording of her thoughts. Either way, our authentic voice is quite powerful! xx

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I think what you're saying about doing it on my own terms is key here, and I'm still thinking about how that might be best achieved. Agree that leaving behind my authentic voice in some form is important, though. Thanks for your input, Kelsa!

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i've written in journals pretty consistently since i was a child (i'm 26 now), but whenever i went back to them later i would always throw them away, out of embarrassment or shame of my past feelings.

i regret throwing them away, and i stopped doing that in 2019, but i also live in NYC. i've moved around quite a lot in the past 6 years and even if i did keep all my journals, i simply wouldn't have had the space for them or the desire to lug them around. with my journals from 2019-now, i scanned them all into PDFs and got rid of the originals. it was a tedious process even with only about 5 or 6 journals, but that way i can look back on them if i want to without having the physical ones! & it feels less likely that someone will read a randomly titled pdf.

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Thanks for sharing, Jaysen. It's so interesting to know that you regret throwing away your old journals. I'm leaning toward not doing that now. Whether I'll go to the trouble of scanning them, I'm not sure, but that seems like a good solution in general.

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Scanning the journals into PDFs is such a great idea. Time-consuming but worthwhile.

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This is a such a tricky question. I too used to keep "notebooks" that I wrote mostly in my pre-teen and teenage years. One day when I was newly married, I went through a box of things from my parents house and I tossed them. I felt the same as you described - I didn't want someone to read them if something happened to me or someone came upon them and what did I need them? Now, years later and as my kids were in their teenage years, I really wish I still had them. I would have liked to have read how I felt - as angsty as it might have been and have a glimpse into my teenage years. I remember some of how I felt but certainly not everything. (maybe I really don't need to know everything!) I don't know what the solution is. I kind of like the idea of having someone in charge of disposing of them if you are no longer around. I like Sherry's idea of reading through them and making notes or copying what you would like to share and disposing of the rest. I'm not sure i you have kids or would like to have kids but as I mentioned, I think reading through old journals is such a useful way of identifying with how you felt when you were their age.

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Thanks for sharing, Gina. I do have kids, and my daughter happens to be 14, about the same age as me when I was really pumping out the entries because I was experiencing so much angst and drama. You're right that it's been really fascinating revisiting my thoughts at that age and comparing them to how my daughter thinks and behaves now. There's so much I've forgotten about. I've already shared with her a few entries that she found funny. It's definitely a good way to connect with her and remind myself of what she might be going through.

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I would continue the story for those who might read your diaries one day. Let them know how your story ends by letting them know the person who you have become.

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Thanks for your input, Melissa! I do like the idea of "picking up on the story" again. I no longer feel a strong motivation for journaling anymore, but the idea of writing at least one follow-up is compelling.

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I wonder about this too, Nancy. I have so many journals--I just found more yesterday in a box in the "way-down basement," the one at the very bottom of the house, built into the hillside, where I rarely dare to tread. I don't feel right throwing them away but I've never gone through any of them since the moment I wrote them, and I can't imagine anyone else will want to either. I think I need to reread "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death-Cleaning"!

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I've been going through old journals recently, too, and feel similarly conflicted! Here's what Bard says ;)

Read them over and reflect on your past. Old diaries and journals can be a treasure trove of memories. Reading them over can help you to remember the good times, the bad times, and the people who have shaped your life. It can also help you to understand yourself better and to see how you have grown and changed over the years.

Share them with others. If you are comfortable doing so, you can share your old diaries and journals with others. This can be a great way to connect with family and friends, and to share your stories with the world. You can also donate your old diaries and journals to a library or archive, where they can be preserved for future generations.

Use them as inspiration for your writing. Old diaries and journals can be a great source of inspiration for your writing. You can use them to help you to remember events, to develop characters, and to find new ideas. You can also use them as a starting point for creative writing exercises, such as stream of consciousness writing or automatic writing.

Create a scrapbook or photo album. If you have old photographs or other memorabilia that you would like to preserve, you can create a scrapbook or photo album. This is a great way to combine your old diaries and journals with other mementos to create a unique and personal keepsake.

Digitize them. If you would like to preserve your old diaries and journals for future generations, you can digitize them. This will allow you to access them from anywhere, and to share them with others easily. There are a number of different ways to digitize your old diaries and journals, such as using a scanner or a photo printer.

Ultimately, the best way to deal with old diaries and journals is up to you. There is no right or wrong answer. The most important thing is to do what feels right for you and for your diaries and journals.

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Thanks, Jill :) Bard is so wise. I'd be curious to hear what you end up deciding to do with your old diaries. I've decided for now to keep mine a little longer!

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I only just started consistently journaling for the first time -- great experience so far, brought upon mostly by my fear of just plain old forgetting things (since becoming a dad, it's like my brain is just full all the time) -- so I can't speak from direct experience. But a few years ago when we were moving, my wife threw out the journals from her teenage years, and has mentioned multiple times since that she really, really regrets doing so.

So, whether it's boxing up the physical journals, or transcribing them to some digital format, based on her experience I'd recommend you keep them in some capacity.

Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for sharing your experience - and your wife's! It's helpful for me to know that she regrets tossing her journals. For now, I've decided to hold onto mine a little longer.

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I would save them, but I would include a note on the inside front to explain some of what you were facing, experiencing, learning, etc. (you get the Idea) at the time. so much of our heritage is lost because no one leaves journals anymore. You never know who you will encourage or inspire because of your struggles and experiences. Everyone's life matters! Think of the book someone may write to uplift or inspire others someday. I only wish my grandmother or my husband's family members left a journal or personal note behind I have my mother's poems she never shared and Gary's mother's tapes and photo albums, but not much from further back. I wish I had. Human beings aren't perfect; it is their journey in life that makes them who they are. REAL -Lauraine

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I like the idea of encouraging or inspiring someone with my struggles and experiences. Thanks for bringing that up, Lauraine. For now, I've decided to save the journals at least a little while longer.

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