Writing for me is an outlet. It always has been.
There are journals with my name on them in the archives of my home from the time I was 6 years old. There are writings about going to the museum, the zoo, the library. Stories about events that happened between my brother and I and funny things between my parents. I wrote about what I wanted to be when I grew up and analyzed my place in the world with scrawly handwriting and illustrations. For me, using a pen and paper as a means to process the happenings of a day or sort through my emotions is simply second nature.
As mentioned briefly in my previous post Lets Chat: Teenagers, I’ve kept journals throughout my adolescent years to keep me sane…or highlight my insanity…one or the other. There are notebooks filled to the brim with angst. From frustrations to song lyrics to my hopes and dreams to my crush of the week, I wrote about it all.
I was completely unaware at the time that I wasn’t simply writing, but that I was actually practicing a very useful skill. The ability to be self-aware and emotionally intelligent. Because of my writing I was less likely to lash out in raw emotion, instead I was able to process how a situation made me feel internally. It also made me very organized when relaying my feelings about a situation to others. I became very good at breaking things down and separating my emotions from the rest of life.
“Why do you journal Nicole? Doesn’t that take a lot of time, don’t you have a real job?” Well, journaling doesn’t actually take me as long as it used to, but I also dont write tons anymore. I personally journal for 2 main reasons. 1) To maintain my ability to process the happenings of life and keep track of things that have happened good or bad. 2) To hopefully one day be able to hand one of my journals over to my own teenagers and let them get to know their mom through another, more intimate lens. I want them to know that when I say “yes, I do understand what you’re going through” that I in fact do, because I too had my struggles and I am qualified to partner with them through theres.
As much as I am an advocate for journaling, I know that some people find it difficult to know where to begin, that’s where I come in. As with most things, I wouldn’t call myself an expert (I don’t even know if that’s a thing…) but I can lend you a few tricks that I’ve used over the years that help me to get started.
- Find a Journal that you love- Okay. So, confession. I’m kind of a journal hoarder. I like a very specific type of journal so when I see one…I need it. I’ve gotten better at that over the years, now I satisfy my need to buy them by buying them for friends and family as gifts. But anyway! Find something you love. This journal will follow you around for years (depending on how often you write), so you potentially want something that makes you happy to carry around. Some people like to use online journals, if that’s more your style go for it! I do not simply because the act of writing on a page is therapeutic for me and I want to be able to psychically hand something off to my children.
- Define its purpose What is your purpose of journaling? Is it to work through a problem you’re having? Is it to document prayers? Is it to enhance your writing skill? Once you define what it is you’re trying to do with your journal, writing becomes less of a chore and more of a mission.
- Talk about yourself- The first few pages of journaling are a little uncomfortable. Even though no one is reading your writing it can still feel a bit awkward to just dive right into the most intimate details of your life. So don’t, start slowly. Write about yourself. Whats your favorite color? Movie? Song? Why is that song your favorite song? When did you fall in love with it? What does it remind you of? Expound on that memory a little bit. See whats happening? Without pressuring yourself to get deep, you simply introduce yourself so to speak and now, you’re digging just a little bit deeper into who you are.
- Be honest- You get to be really real here. You’re not impressing any one, so be open and honest with yourself about whats happening in your life, good or bad. Allow yourself to explore different sides of a situation. Explore different view points. This is how you develop emotionally. By allowing yourself to be honest with…yourself. See something you don’t like? That’s okay! You can fix it (and no I don’t mean acne or your waistline or the shape of your nose….I mean laziness and anger issues…). But you can’t begin the journey of fixing it if you don’t even allow yourself to acknowledge it.
- Read it- This. This is my least favorite part. I hate looking back and my journals and seeing what I was. I hate seeing that I was so caught up in this trivial issue last year…but thats exactly why I keep doing it. Because being able to look back and see how trivial something was, or even how big something was and how I overcame it over time puts me in my place. What do I mean by that? It reminds me that life goes on. That as much as I may feel like I’m drowning or lost right now, I know, because evidence, that one day I will look back and see where I was and I’ll be a different person. That alone gives me strength to endure whatever today may throw my way.
That’s all I’ve got! I hope you’ll consider starting a journal if you don’t already use one. They’re a beautiful way to center yourself, a little frustrating at first, but once you get into your rhythm I believe you’ll really enjoy it.
Let me know if you’re already an avid journal-er. When did you start? Do you still love it?
If you don’t journal, what are your hesitations to begin?
Looking forward to hearing from you! I hope you all have a safe and happy memorial weekend (for my US peeps of course). Annnnd as always, Stay Lovely.