For as long as I can remember, I have been big into journaling ( or “writing in my diary”). It began when I was probably eight or so when I received a hot pink with colored hearts desk set that included a desk blotter, pencil jar, notepad, and diary. It had a lock and the days were printed on each page. The page edges were “gold leaf.” I wrote things like ” today we went bowling and out for Chinese food.” Each year at Christmas, I would receive a new similar diary, always with a lock ( safety from my older brother!) and would continue to document the “important” things of life like wearing a great outfit ( oversized neon t-shirt with purple spandex bicycle shorts, scrunched neon socks, and a matching scrunchie- oh the horror of early 90s childhood dressing!)
At some point, my writing in a diary became writing in a journal, probably around the same time I grew out of the small diaries with hearts and flowers on the front. I wanted to be a mature adult with a notebook that didn’t have those childish things on the front. I graduated to ‘journals’ purchased from discount stationary shops and began to document “more important” things of life- you know, like who I danced with at the junior high dance on Friday night or how dreamy one of my brother’s friends was.
Eventually, my daily commenting on life became more about me and less about my social calendar. I’m not sure what pushed me over to the introspective side of journaling and writing about life, but it definitely became my bright spot of sanity in the often crazy busy days of end of high school and beginning of college. In those pages I tried figuring out where I belonged in the world, what the heck I wanted to be when I grew up, and why I cried all the time when frustrated and stressed ( I still do that, though less now as an adult who can handle stress better).
One of the reasons I knew things were way off with me when I was married was I stopped journaling. I was clearly too afraid to be honest with myself and face my inner thoughts, never mind putting them on paper. Conversely, one of the reasons I knew I had found myself again and needed to think about what I wanted for my life was because I started journaling again. It’s hard to deny your true self when you spend even a few minutes in tune with what’s rolling through the brain- once the thoughts started coming about how unhappy I was in my life, it was only a matter of time before I was able to verbalize my issues.
As a general rule, I don’t go back too much to read my old journals. I keep all of them in a ‘memory box’ in the attic- a plastic bin with various pieces of life that I want to remember- yearbooks, awards, random news articles. It’s really easy to look back at the things from elementary school and laugh at what I thought was important to document, but a lot of the other items- especially the angst filled entries from bad boyfriends and breakups- that I have not revisited.
These days I am constantly filling journals with everything that rolls through my brain- in fact, I keep multiple ones. I carry a small notebook in my purse to not only write down random book titles or websites to look up, but to write quotes I hear or ideas I have through the day. I keep a strictly gratitude journal only where I make sure I find at least five things each day to remind myself on rough days how blessed I am. And I have the journal where I do the deep thinking to get out the static in my mind. This blog has allowed me another format to journal and muse about life- and I know a lot of other bloggers feel that connection too. I love having the multi dimensions of writing to express myself and my thinking. It’s incredibly cathartic and important- and totally essential to my well-being too.