Things I Miss: Profile Books
I don’t quite remember if this was a trend across the globe, but when I was in primary school, around 2001, I started at a new school and made some new friends. I was very close with a group of girls in my year group, and this thing called “profile books” went around.
Essentially, profile books were physical notebooks that contained your friends’ profiles, and I guess could be seen as a form of scrapbooking with your friends as different contributors. The idea was, you chose whatever notebook you liked, and you gave it to your friend at some point during the year and they would write their profile in it. They could include their photo, any “gifts”, draw something for you, but most importantly it was about sharing all their personal details like name, birthday, phone number and address. When I think about it, it’s a bit like an expanded address book or autograph book.
I really enjoyed writing my profile in my friends’ books. I loved handwriting, and I loved getting creative, and I loved to share things about myself (clearly that hasn’t changed, now that I have a blog). Every time someone in my year group got a profile book, I considered it an honour when they asked me to write in it.
I eventually had a profile book of my own. I started it as soon as I could. I had a diary with a lock and key, that I didn’t use very much, and it had some nice colourful pages with different designs. It was a rather thick, bound notebook with a spine. Most of my friends had thin ones, or used spiral notebooks. I was reluctant to use this diary as a profile book, but I tore out the first few pages I had written on, and passed it to my closest friend at the time, who had called dibs on writing in it first. Her writing was crazy neat and I loved that she just used pink and blue throughout her profile.
I regretted using that notebook as a profile book after some time, and soon used a new one. It was hard for people to write in my thick notebook, as it had a hard cover, and it was also rather small so people naturally took up quite a few pages or the pages were just too small for them to really fit much information on one.
I got a new one that was thinner and of a more reasonable size, and some of my friends enjoyed writing their profiles again because their information was more up to date, or their handwriting had improved, or they just hadn’t liked their previous profile in my old book.
When I read through my high school yearbook some time after I graduated, I realised that the profiles of each person in our year group, grouped together, two-to-a-page – with a profile, the obligatory “Famous Last Words” and a bit of room for an autograph or a message – reminded me of the profile books I had so fondly owned in my younger years. I no longer have the profile books my friends wrote in, and I guess their contact details also became out of date. Not to mention I don’t talk to anyone from primary school anymore.
I bumped into my old friend Diana at an Explosions in the Sky concert a few years back – I have an inkling she might have tried to look me up on Facebook and never found me because I don’t use it – but I guess it’s a bittersweet that we have moved on from the classic address book or autograph book and just search for someone on a social networking service and find them all over again. The nostalgia is lost. I will forever remember my high school biology teacher for her efforts when she gave us all a non-lined blank spiral notebook with a handmade cover of a graduation hat and wrote us personalised messages inside, inviting us to pass our book around to write messages to each other.
While I am in the hopes that something more tangible like this will return one day, maybe Facebook walls and Twitter timelines are, quite simply, the future, which is why profile books is yet another thing I miss.