When I was younger, I used to write a diary online. It was a kind of precursor to blogging - you could create your own page and write entries like a regular diary except you could then decide whether you wanted to make that day's thoughts public, private or available only to an exclusive list of community members.

That community was my favourite part of the site (well, aside from being able to choose whether my page colours were going to be hot pink and turquoise or storm grey and mustard, and which song lyrics to post up on my homepage which was, more often than not, Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls). It was a social network before social networks really took off; the way you could instantly access the latest diary entries from all over the world at the click of a mouse and discover someone else's entire world, what they did that day or what they were really thinking at that moment, instead of just a snippet of a tweet or a picture.

I was searching for that site again earlier today. I've been thinking about it a lot lately - what I'd written, the comments I'd shared on others' diaries, the ones I'd received, the friendships gained. It's been a long time since I read it. You see, like many people I look back at my old diaries, both physical and digital, with a mix of reverence and horror. I have a whole stack of them in my room and the words behind those covers are not always pretty. Unlike the posts I write on here, I really revealed myself in those pages - and it's not something I wanted the people who knew me in my real life to ever see.

Yet after a few years of writing in heavily guarded notebooks, I wanted some kind of feedback. Was I completely out of line when I argued with my friend that day? Was I being paranoid, thinking that my boyfriend was flirting with that girl? Writing to myself every night wasn't getting me anywhere, allowing my same thoughts to circle each other like vultures. Finding that site was like coming home - I could finally share my true self and seek alternative viewpoints without having to worry about its effect on my relationships.

That undiluted self-disclosure is also a very uncomfortable thing to read back on. Sometimes I wonder whether I should just throw them away and move on from those earlier versions of myself that make me want to cringe so much I could cry (and I could also really do with the storage space). Other times I wonder whether I'll want them one day in the future, to understand myself better and realise why I might feel a certain way in particular situations. It's incredible how much the brain forgets; alighting on any page at random can teach me entirely new things about myself that were once all-consuming.

It turns out that I didn't get a choice with the digital versions of my teenage self; the site closed down last year and all of our words were scattered to the winds of the internet.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. Part of me is sad that those chapters of my life that I once felt were worthy of recording are now lost. Part of me feels relieved and almost cleansed of the troubles of that time. And part of me is kind of pissed off because I was also seeking that site out so I could start writing on it again.

I know I could just take up writing in little notebooks to hide beneath my mattress again but I liked the way that online diary was much harder to find than any physical journal could have been. My next thought was turning to this blog yet it's not quite the place to just write out everything I'm thinking and feeling (although I'm certainly making a start of it right now!) I hunted for a half hour or so for another online diary community that would give me that same satisfaction, that same feeling of secrecy and community, but nothing quite matched up.

Self-disclosure, to others, is important. It helps us feel accepted and safe and like we have a place in this world. It's why psychologists have found that getting two people to sit down and work their way through a list of questions about themselves can lead them to fall in love. It's why we feel so much closer to other people after a good old bitching session. It's why we feel the need to share something of ourselves with the world and why we can feel hollow and empty after simply posting another edited Instagram shot.

So I've decided to be a little more open on this blog. For too long now I feel that I've been writing in a completely fake voice that doesn't really tell you anything at all about me and my experiences in the places I've visited. Sure I won't reveal absolutely everything like I would in a real diary but I might just start pretending that fewer people are reading than those that actually are.

Fingers crossed that Blogger doesn't shut down too.