Visiting my childhood home always stirs up a lot of emotions for me – both positive and negative. The process of going through my old bedroom and finding memory boxes everywhere containing old photos, poems, school projects (I was a bit of a hoarder as a child) all stir up yesterday’s feelings. And then there are the journals.
During my most recent trip home, I went through these old journals. I even read some passages out loud to my boyfriend (now that’s when you know it’s real – when you feel comfortable enough to reveal your embarrassing middle school self). The oldest one I found was dated 2005… as in eleven years ago… as in I was fourteen years old! Just a crazy experience reading the thoughts of the 14 year old version of yourself.
I had recently started journaling sporadically in December for the first time since college. It hit me back at my mom’s house how much journaling means to me.
Which leads me to… three things journaling taught me about myself.
1. Journaling has always been a large part of my life. It never hit me that it’s been over ten years now. Looking back at glimpse of these entries, it always came back to the struggles I experienced. If you only looked at my journals, you never would’ve guessed I had such an amazingly supportive family or funny, true-friends. I was so angsty! (But would it have been the true teenage experience if I escaped untouched by Angst?)
I took this love of writing into my first full-time job.. where I crashed and burned. I’ll admit it – I was fired from my first job. Looking back, it was pretty clear that it just wasn’t a good fit for either myself or my employer. Even at the time, I wasn’t shocked that the ax had come. It had been pretty clear that my PR writing skills were not up to par. Which at the time, convinced myself I was just not a “writer.” I wasn’t the “writer-type.” Whatever that means.
2. Journaling helps me prioritize time for self-reflection. For years after my first job, I quit writing all together. No journals, no blogs, nothing except for sarcastic Tweets. I was pretty depressed and always felt overwhelmed. In December of last year, I finally started keeping a journal again.
Getting back to it reminded me how important quality alone time is. Carving out 10 – 20 minutes either at the beginning or end of a day to be alone with your thoughts has been a powerful tool for getting out of my funk at the time. Journaling helps prioritize that time as it easily becomes a ritual that you look forward to.
3. You’ve gotten this far. You’ll get through the next challenge and then some. The biggest theme I saw looking back at my journal entries from growing up was that I was reliant as hell. I had some struggles growing up, as we all do, but I got through each and every time. Even when things look impossible, I know I can get what I want, because I’ve done it before.
The only thing to do is look ahead and stay positive.
Do you keep a journal? How has this habit helped shape your view on life?