At first, the thought of keeping all of your innermost thoughts and feelings in one place can seem daunting. Especially when you consider tying to do it for AN ENTIRE MONTH. It sure did to me, but once I moved past my initial trepidation of somebody accidentally happening across those thoughts and feelings, the idea of journaling became something that I could look forward to. I found it to be a great method of capturing a moment in time, akin to taking a photograph. And one of the most important things I learned was that sometimes the quickest way to learn something new about yourself is to just write it down.
For starters, I learned a little something about where I like to write things down. What I found to be the best kind of journal to work with is one with thick pages (so the ink doesn’t bleed as readily) and pockets. That way anything I wanted to save for later to add to the journal wouldn’t run the risk of getting lost. One of my favorites, which is rather affordable, is Markings® by C.R. Gibson.
My favorite things to document are experiences and feelings that I might want to access later. That being said, I figured out that I also liked to preserve things like ticket stubs, pressed leaves, sketches, or pictures alongside the written words to visually enhance the pages.
Other fun additions included a variety of paints, self-made envelopes, and stickers. Having extra embellishments like those helped me to recall experiences more vividly as well as make the process of journaling more fun. I learned about what I considered to be the most significant events in my life as they were happening.
Mostly, I enjoyed journaling because it showed me different ways to spend my time, and besides having a therapeutic quality, writing in a journal functions as a nice alternative to being on my phone in public. Instead of allowing myself to be consumed by stress or sadness, I learned that it feels good to articulate how you feel, even if it is just on paper.
In turn, it pushed me to start sharing how I feel more readily because I had a concrete grasp of my exact emotions instead of just a vague notion of them. From there I realized it’s not just the sad things that are worth documenting, and I found a greater appreciation for what makes me happy after seeking out the best moments of each day to commemorate.
Overall, keeping a daily journal changed me for the better because it let me prove to myself that I could make a moderately time-consuming commitment (some days I would write for at least an hour!) and stick through it. I grew to become more comfortable with filling empty spaces, which is mostly a convenient skill to have as an English major who must frequently start essays from scratch. And most importantly, I had a stronger sense of self after I had finished.
As some parting words of wisdom, when I was stuck for ideas on what to write about, I found that good places to find ideas to get the creative juices flowing include (but are not limited to) Pinterest, a Daily Writing Prompt website, or this PDF that has a prompt for each day of the year. Any of these are great starting points to go off of. That or redoing prompts that I’d already responded to as time goes on. This reveals how your opinions on things can change over time, which is the best aspect of journaling in my opinion: being able to keep track of what makes you, you.