We've all been there- doodling our crushes' names into our notebooks, writing angry letters to our moms, and self-professed love poems to our high-school significant others: writing ranges from an expression of the trustest human form to scribbling silly notes to our friends in class. Writing is something that is at its core is deeply personal and individualistic, but duplistic in the way that it is also something that is meant to be shared. Personally, I have always had a hard time sharing my writing since I feel that it tends to reveal something about me, even if it's something simple like a quick email or a to-do list. However, since I've started journaling, I've gotten more in touch with myself and how I feel, and have even gotten more confident in sharing my writing with others and even encouraging others to write and journal themselves. Journaling has helped me begin a journey of self-exploration that has proved to be both enlightening and reflective.

Some people swear by it, some promise themselves that they're going to do it but never do, and most just see it as some hippy-dippy thing that yogis and Buddhist monks do. While I am neither a yogi nor a Buddhist monk, journaling has personally helped me center myself and focus on goals and the person that I personally want to be or strive towards being, and this mission has become surprisingly difficult in nature. Writing is hard - I'm sure we've all faced writer's block writing essays, assignments and responding to prompts: however, writing with no prompt is another experience entirely. Through journaling and even through writing for Odyssey, I've faced my fair share of writer's block. However, I've just learned to let my thoughts flow freely and write down what I'm thinking when I journal, and a lot of times I process my thoughts on the paper which helps me identify what I'm feeling.

Journaling has helped me through some extremely difficult times in my life, and also have captured some of the happiest moments. It has become a snapshot of my feelings and my life, and as someone who is obsessed with taking pictures, keeping a memory of my experiences provides another dimension of life for me. While reading back in my journal is sometimes hard and definitely brings up memories, it is always humbling and enlightening to look back on my past thoughts. It makes me realize how much I've changed, how much I have experienced but most of all my potential to grow.

If you feel lost, if you feel stagnant, or even if everything is going well- give journaling a try. In our fast-paced media culture and a society that promotes being busy, taking a step back and investing in yourself will provide benefits beyond compare.