I am obsessed with journals and planners and pens and all things paper-related. Don’t tell my parents, but when they would send me to the store for milk (the 80s & 90s were a different time – see: Home Alone), I would buy a notebook or folder almost every time. They never called me out on it, but I suspect they knew I was pilfering $0.79 from them every time I went out.
I have a lot of stationary related memories, which is a weird thing to admit. One of my favorites, however, involves my aunt and a diary.
JOURNALING: A RETROSPECTIVE
One summer in the early 90s, my mom and dad took me and my aunt on vacation. My aunt is less than two years older than me, and at that point, she was the closest thing I had to a sister. We had an amazing time neglecting sunscreen and turning into lobsters up on one of the Ohio
islands, and we were both sad when it ended. We lived about 45 minutes apart, and when you can’t drive, that seems pretty massive. Upon our return, before she was shipped back to her side of town, we went to Hallmark and bought matching (locked!) diaries. I mean, it was 90s and we had so many secrets. We vowed to write in them and swap next summer, so we wouldn’t miss a thing. I’ve never seen Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I’m pretty sure it’s like that. (Right? Maybe?) We never swapped diaries, but I did write and draw in mine until the pages ran out. This began my love affair with journaling. As a teen and young adult, I started a LiveJournal which I embedded in the website I ran at the time. Eventually, I shut that down (another story for another time) and went back to paper journaling. Now put aside the image I conjured above of a school girl writing in her diary. While that IS journaling, that’s just one form. Journaling is personal and personalized. It’s what you make it. It’s a tool that I strongly recommend having in your toolbox.
THE WHY OF IT ALL
1. Becoming Your Own BFF
Through journaling, you get to know your authentic self. Writing for yourself is very different from writing for others. No one reads your journal but you. You get to take off the mask you wear in public and expose yourself in your true form. It’s so terrifying but also extremely liberating.
This is number two because once you become your own BFF, you can begin to explore areas you had previously tried to ignore or repress. There are literally entire books dedicated to the benefit of journaling for healing. Not only will you be able to examine what happened and how it made you feel, you’ll also noticed reduced stress as you work through the process and make peace. But, more on that later.
3. Personal Growth
You begin to grow as you accept yourself and accept your flaws. Personal growth means something different to everybody because it is, as its name so clearly implies, personal. With journaling, you’ll begin to identify areas you’d like to work on. It may be a habit you’d like to break or a skill you’d like to develop, but whatever it is – go for it! Now that you’ve identified it, grow, girl, grow!
I recently found a journal I started (and abandoned! I mean, I’m not perfect.) in 2014. I had written a couple very SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely – goals listed. It’s now 2019 and I’ve achieved exactly zero of those goals. I never held myself accountable! IN FIVE YEARS. By journaling regularly, you track your progress and can adjust your course as needed. (And don’t worry – I’ve achieved so much in the last 5 years…just not the massive weight loss and other goals I expected when I wrote all that in 2014.)
5. Reduced Stress
As I mentioned in number 2, you’ll begin to reduce your stress as you heal. But stress doesn’t just come from old wounds, right? Stress is caused by the view you take of events as they occur. Sometimes it can be hard to stop in your tracks and take a mindful moment, and I totally get that. That’s where journaling comes in. Download all the thoughts into your journal. You’ll
find yourself feeling instantly better. And, you can come back to the entry later to come up with your GSD plan.