“I thought self-archiving could lead to self-actualization. I filled as many spaces as I could with information, whether it was on my blog, in Facebook albums, on Twitter, or on any of the many social media platforms I’ve used through the years. It was like collecting data on myself. But I also had an overall fear of letting go, of impermanence. I was so scared of forgetting pieces of myself—even pieces I longed to discard, like bad relationships and bad friendships and, I guess, other people in general. They discarded me more easily than I discarded them.”
I have the luxury to remember myself cooler than I actually was in school. As I have sometimes shared on stage, there are no social media posts from the ’90s to contradict how I think of my younger self from 25 years ago. The digital archives we are now creating for ourselves can be a gift, but also can weigh us down. Writer Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya explores this idea in an essay this week that suggests perhaps the path to self awareness requires deleting the past … a conclusion she reaches after much soul searching:
“Easing up on my self-archiving felt like building new trust with myself, giving myself permission to change and grow. I used to believe saving everything was the only way to find out what I really wanted, who I wanted to be. But when I delete things, I just make space for something new.”
It’s not easy to admit, but I relate to her struggle. The desire to archive my own thoughts is a powerful one for me as a writer. Yet this article helped me consider the value of discarding that archive so I can move beyond the past version of myself that it commemorates. No doubt it is easier to become a better person when your past self isn’t just a resurfaced tweet away.