This morning, while enjoying a breakfast of Blueberry Muffin Frosted Mini-Wheats and a banana, I made an initially horrific discovery. A discovery that, even with the sheer amount of homework I had, drove me to our lovely blog and demanded that I write about it. It was quite persistent.
That, of course, and the fact that I’m procrastinating. Senioritis has struck me hard and at the worst possible time, but anyway. Back to Nicole Story Time.
To put this all into context, I’d been reading a few blogs this morning, minding my own business and generally still a bit sleepy, when I stumbled upon an article about internet identity. The blogger had Googled her own name on a whim and realized that the first search hit was her Xanga account from when she was 14 — obviously, this was quite alarming, considering she’s now graduating from college and applying for jobs, and she doesn’t want her emoticons and early high-school boy crushes to cost her employment. Reading this article sent a little frisson of terror down my spine. Like many other young adults, I spent a good portion of my adolescence online, and I’d written a lot of things (both fiction and journaling — why anyone thought LiveJournal was good for society, I’ll never know) that I’d rather never see the light of day.
When I was younger, I was a bit paranoid about internet security. My parents refused to buy things online for fear of identity theft (which at the time was annoying when I wanted to get in on the eBay craze, but in hindsight was a smart move). For some reason, I was terrified that someone would take something I had written (copied and pasted from my online journal, I feared), and claim it as his/her own. In terms of irrational fears, I obviously favored the more mundane. But, as a result, things I wrote were always hidden behind “friends only” locks or tagged with little copyright bubbles with an internet penname. Even years later, I’m meticulous about my Facebook settings and other social media outlets I use on a regular basis. So naturally, because of my past caution, I figured that searching my own name would probably not come up with anything of any great importance. I’m applying to graduate schools, and it wouldn’t be terribly uncommon if they were to do a cursory search.
So, I typed my name in and hit search. The first page of Google results was acceptable. Nothing interesting was revealed except for a few hits on my friends-only Facebook page, along with the realization that nearly 150 women with my same name live in the USA. However, disaster struck when smack dab on the second page was the full text of a story that I had written junior year of high school. I hadn’t put it online — I had entered a writing contest in high school, and the link was to an official university webpage. I must have given them permission some time nearly five years ago to publish it, and there it was, sitting on the internet, free for all to read and judge.
Now, at this point, I’m not concerned that it’s going to be stolen. Heck, if someone wants to use it and make it the next blockbuster (or horror film, or flip book plot, ballet choreography, etc.), I’ll be as shocked as the next chick on the street. Instead, I was more surprised by the way my writing has changed, and in my estimation, for the better. In high school (and earlier) I wrote a lot more angrily, using violence to supplement character development. I loved words like “weeping,” “tears,” and “blood.” My sentences were confusing and convoluted, and if this story was anything to judge by, I thought I understood how neuroscience worked. I wrote a lot for shock value, and scanning the words I couldn’t believe that my teachers and peers had read this piece.
Looking back now, I’m deeply grateful for the improvement that I’ve managed to achieve in the years that followed this particular piece; taking classes at my university has definitely allowed me to better hone my craft, and I’m a much happier person. University has been kind to me (oh, the irony of saying that now while I’m eyeball-deep in stress) and I love the world of academia. I can still tap into the dark imagery I used then, but I don’t rely on it. Which is good, because you can only kill so many characters. It makes me sad.
So, in conclusion, I don’t know if anyone else will stumble on the piece or what they’ll think. Seeing that the page is dated and it’s obvious that it was put up in 2006, I don’t have any real cause for alarm. Well, other than a slight wince of embarrassment when I think about it.