I’ve always believed that diary entries are meant for the writer’s eyes only.
From a young age, I’ve been journaling the fleeting patches of joy, curiosity and confusion I encounter around me. Somewhere, somehow tiny to towering memories have found a home in my diary’s fluttering blank pages. Every so often, I’ll thumb through my scrawny, wannabe autobiography with all of its permanent pencil indents and creased corners to reminisce over a past version of myself. I’m at ease knowing my innermost feelings are safely tucked away in these rough edges. But even after burning through diary after diary and years wildly passing, my opinion hasn’t changed. I still don’t let anyone else’s eyes in.
Honestly, I’ve never been a good speaker. I shy away from initiating conversations or sharing during class discussions if not asked to, and my throat burns to chime in a humble comment. New friends are the hardest to keep. Eye contact is the worst. I remember high school classmates labeling me as the girl who couldn’t speak English just because of how little I did in their presence. Kind of rude, if you ask me.
In places I don’t speak, I turn to writing, my word oasis that only I harvest from. The process is far from perfect, although it triumphs nevertheless. With an empty canvas, I collect my thoughts and assign sense behind them. A stream of linguistic consciousness flows when a pen is in my hand or when my fingers rest on a keyboard. My premature entries travel back to when I sang songs to my mother to hint my boredom or sketched cartoons with my older brother because I enjoyed his company and couldn’t admit it.
So, I’ll spend the following months unearthing the pocket of my personality enveloped by the common denominator of these musings: art. It’d be unrealistic to say that every phase of my life has revolved around only art, because it hasn’t. But the moments that did have stayed with me with the most weight. Humor me for a bit.
The vacuum between the internal and external is an unusual space. But, if there exists just one bridge between the two, for me, allow it to be art. Allow it to be found in the albums I adore and the shows I shamelessly indulge in. Interpreting the art I consume, create or cherish aligns with the brainstorm I continue to weather. I didn’t know it when I belted those pitchy adolescent vocals or framed those stick figures to pass as comic strips, but art always found a way back into my arms for how I interacted with the world. I’m 19 years old now. I guess some things never change.
I’ll always believe in art and what it can mean to me. The art I locate myself in, the art that resides in my heart, is where I nurture a space to link the two realms of the inside and outside. Bits of my being continue to manifest through these avenues and instances only grow more evident over time. Eventually, I settle and retreat back to my trusty diary where I contemplate the concealed meaning behind drawing a tree or voluntarily relearning that Chopin Sonata. I sink into a puddle of question marks, pondering and grasping at whits to weave together something intangible. Maybe it’s not that deep. Or maybe it is. I’ll tell you about it when I get there.
I cannot lie, however. The thought of adding to this weekly public archive about my experiences is daunting. After all, I still believe that diary entries are meant to be hidden away the way mine is now. I like it like that. But, as I shift to the infinite online universe, this corner of the internet is like my public diary — or, at its best, the entries I wish to share with you. I must mention that it’s much more composed than the messy word salad I toss in my beat-up journals. But, no matter if it’s perfect or flawed, writing is just as exposing as it is vulnerable, as my bare truth now lies in your hands.
I’m searching for the strings of sentences that unravel my head the way I want. And when I throw them together, I’ll laminate the words I write and the feelings I feel to protect them. I constantly rethink about how this will be published, where you may carve a perception of me that I cannot control, nor that I’m aware of. I’m still the same person who likes to stay quiet in class, intentionally avoid your eyes and keep to myself. But, I’ll open up here, where my words articulate more than my voice can. This is my laminated ink. In these columns, these fragments of my mind I snapshot and immortalize, perhaps I’ve found a place where I can finally speak to you.
Ashley Tsai writes the Monday A&E column on art bridging the internal and the external. Contact her at [email protected].