Personal journals are an amazing self-help tool. Over time, and with patience, we see things about ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise notice. I’ve been journaling since 1987 and didn’t realize what a service I was doing for myself until now.
Inspired by Stuart Danker’s post, “Can Journaling Improve Your Writing? I Don’t Know, But Let’s Find Out,” I went through a few of my old journals yesterday afternoon and made a discovery.
Nothing about me has fundamentally changed.
Let’s back up a bit.
Yesterday morning, scrolling through my WordPress Reader, I found the post on journaling and felt a tad validated. I picked up my journal and scribbled, “I’m not alone in the world! Other people journal and look back only to find…eek!” My family jokes that someday my hand-written journals may be all that’s left of our civilization. Or worse! Some long-distant decedent discovers my box of journals only to find that insanity DOES run strong in our blood.
Oh, what a terrible thought!
Let’s get serious for a moment.
Several hours later, I find myself laying flat on the floor of my craft room, just thinking. I was feeling a tad low but accepting it as simply one of my ebbs and flows of the day. That’s when I turned my head and saw the storage box of journals I had brought in from the laundry/storage room last week.
I had brought in several boxes while cleaning out the storage room so my husband can transform it into his brewing lab. They are filled with old journals, calendars, and notes, and I want to consolidate and organize that stuff so it doesn’t get lost.
There I am, laying on the floor in my “woe is me” mood, when I spy the box and think…you know maybe it would be fun to thumb through those! Can you see this coming?
The first one I grabbed was from 2013, and the entries I saw were from one of our epic camping trips. I smiled thinking of my parenting days. The next one was a little sadder. It was the journal that my lawyer kept the year that I was arrested for armed robbery and attempted carjacking. Yeah…that’s a book that’s written and waiting for me to be brave enough to try and publish.
When the case was closed, I got the journal back and decided it would be fitting to flip it over and starting using it back to front. Those entries are a little painful to read, so much anxiety.
The last one I picked up, before I had to run off and make dinner, was from 1987. It’s my earliest journal, written in the back of my math notebook when I was fifteen years old and filled with comments about what boys I liked, which ones were calling me, and why my mom was so mean not to let go to a party.
Pretty typical, really. Sure, I was a little embarrassed reading it. Was I ever that young? But then I started thinking about it. I haven’t changed at all. Then I got sad. Have I not learned anything?
I went to sleep thinking about my own personal journals, woke up this morning, got myself a “cup of ambition,” and plopped down on the couch with my book.
Do you write personal journals, ones that are filled with your thoughts and feelings? There is so much swirling through my mind, but today is my “outing” day, so I’ll have to come back to you with the rest tomorrow. I’m sure these thoughts will settle if I sit quiet for a moment.