Thirty-year-old Emily Gilbert took to her blog last Thursday to politely request that her friends and family no longer give her journals.
“I know I’m sensitive and quiet, with a lot going on beneath the surface,” Gilbert wrote in her post, entitled “No More Journals, Please”, “but I have enough journals to last a few lifetimes. I have other interests, you know.”
“It just seems like she’s dealing with a lot of feelings this month—more than usual, anyhow,” says her aunt, Phyllis Gilbert. “So I sent her a care package of dried lavender, Tension Tamer Tea, and a new leather journal. You know, somewhere for her to put all those feelings about us giving her journals.”
Emily often deals with a lot of feelings. Emily’s best friend, Sasha Park, says that Emily frequently cancels brunch because she needs time alone. “I’m just glad she’s using the journal I got her,” says Park.
When told of Park’s rationale, Emily responds, “Yes, I do like some time to process and relax on my own with my cat, and sure, maybe I have low-grade social anxiety, but that doesn’t mean I need another place to write things down.”
As a shy, little girl, Emily did have a fondness for journals. She read Harriet the Spy and started documenting the world around her, uncovering a neighborhood scandal. “We didn’t care about the accusations she made against the Stedmans,” says Emily’s mother, Patricia. “We were just glad she had a friend, even if that friend was a journal.”
But what began as a girlish pastime quickly began to unfairly define her in the eyes of her narrow-minded loved ones.
After requesting a new set of bed linens to make her apartment more mature and inviting to any possible male guests she might one day have over, her parents got her a set of rainbow-colored journals and glitter pens. “You can get anyone sheets,” says Emily’s father. “But only a special kind of girl needs a journal.”
“But I really, really don’t need any more journals,” says Emily as she shows us her closet filled with empty journals. She’s tried re-gifting them, but many of her friends and family personalized the journals with inscriptions like, “May these pages keep you company and give you some comfort.”
“My English teacher gave me this journal when Justin Zicarelli said he didn’t want to go to the prom with me. That was nice of her,” says Gilbert. “But then when I asked her for a college recommendation letter, she just gave me another journal instead. For when you go away to college, she said.”
Emily stares mournfully at the stacks of journals reaching nearly to the ceiling. “All those blank pages—just thinking about them triggers a mild panic attack.” She feels an unfair pressure to fill them with memorable life events, something she’s not able to achieve at the moment with her current job as an SAT tutor.
Co-workers at the SAT tutoring center report that she often spends time in the far left bathroom stall, collecting herself. Her supervisor Todd says, “I was going to talk to her about it, but instead I think I’ll let her talk about it to herself in the journal I bought her.”