why i should journal

Keeping A Journal For A Year Has Helped Me To See God's Faithfulness In All Seasons Of Life

"So many of the prayers that I had written out, even if they weren't necessarily explicit, have been answered and answered so fully that I honestly had forgotten that some of them were ever an issue."

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It was my 20th birthday and I was in Target. Chip and Joanna Gaines (aka my favorite power couple on the planet) had just launched their line at Target a few months before and I was walking by it looking longingly at all of the pretty things that I couldn't afford to put in the house that I only own in my imagination when I happened to notice a beautiful little celery green journal. It was clothbound, simple, and spoke right to my stationery-loving soul. I had tried keeping a journal in the past, but I had never really managed to keep up with it. I would write in it for two nights, a week max, and then give up. However, finding this little green journal on my birthday felt like some sort of sign and maybe even a challenge, so I bought it and determined that I would write in it every night for a year, just to prove that I could.

Well, it's been a little over a year since then and I can say that I have in fact managed to write in my journal for probably 350 of the 365 days that happened. Sometimes it was just one line, sometimes it was eight pages. Sometimes I dumped out piles of feelings, other days it was a bullet point itinerary of what I had been up to. It didn't matter to me how much I did it so long as I did. But, I have to confess, I had a little bit of self-doubt, so for the first month or so, I typed my journal entries into the notepad on my phone, not wanting to waste a perfectly good notebook on a few ramblings about my life that I would wish I hadn't even bothered with later. That meant that I now not only had to take the time to write a journal entry each day, but also to copy down these old ones. And better still, I couldn't physically write my new entries until I got caught up on copying the old ones from my phone.

Long story short, it's March and I'm still copying journal entries from last April. I know you think I'm crazy. I think I'm crazy. But there's something so lovely about going back and reading about the things that I was doing and feeling, even though it's just been a year, that I look forward to the time when I can copy my thoughts down onto the page. When I look back at what I was doing almost a year ago, it's easy to see the "right" answers to my questions or to see all of the ways that what I was going through would work out. But at the time, I couldn't see past the night in question, let alone forward a whole year. I was stressed about a whole different set of classes, I had a whole different set of questions about various relationships in my life, I still thought I would be interested in things that I actually left behind months ago.

For me, going back and copying down my old journal entries has been a lovely exercise in taking time to consider my life. These old journal entries, compared with where I am now, are a portrait of God's faithfulness. So many of the prayers that I had written out, even if they weren't necessarily explicit, have been answered and answered so fully that I honestly had forgotten that some of them were ever an issue. It's also been a great way to see how I've grown as a person. Oftentimes I don't feel like an upperclassman, I don't feel any older than I was. But then when I look back at who I was then and what I was thinking about and feeling and dealing with, I can physically see how much I've grown up. There are times when I'm reading and I feel proud of past me or sad for past me like I might for a little kid. It's kind of fun to look and say "yes, I survived that."

While journaling every single night was definitely a task for me more than a pleasure experience most of the time, I feel very blessed and happy to have this snapshot portrait of who I was and what my life was like because I know that it will continue to offer me comfort that God has been faithful and that what feel like never-ending seasons in our lives really do come to an end and have a beautiful purpose to them if we can only have the patience and trust to wait them out.

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12 Unhealthy College Habits That Never Should Have Become Normalized

No, you shouldn't have to pull an all-nighter to pass every exam.

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College is a weird time in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad for our health. Here are some trends I've seen on social media and watched my friends practice that really never should have become a "thing" for college students in the first place.

1. The "freshman 15."

Everyone has heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," where college freshmen gain 15 pounds because of access to all-you-can-eat dining halls. Rather than eating healthier options at the dining halls or, you know, only eating until you're full and not stuffing yourself, we've just accepted our fate to gain what's really a large amount of weight. Not a very healthy mindset.

2. Eating only junk food because we're "too poor" to buy real food.

For off-campus students, the theme is ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is really not how it needs to be. You can buy a bunch of romaine lettuce for around $1 at the grocery store I go to in my college town, and other produce like broccoli, potatoes, and apples are always cheap. Shop sales and keep your pantry stocked on staples like dry pasta, rice, beans, and other canned vegetables. It's not that expensive to eat decently.

3. Gorging on food at the dining hall just because you can.

This is what leads to the freshman 15. Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn't mean you should.

4. Procrastinating EVERYTHING.

I'm always ahead of my schoolwork, but all of the people in my classes push things right down to the wire. It creates unnecessary stress. Just get things done in advance so you don't have to worry.

5. Being generally unorganized and struggling to keep your life together. 

Actually using my planner is one of the best things I've done for myself in college so far. I don't know why it became popular for college students to be a hot mess all the time, but again, do what you can to avoid putting unnecessary stress on yourself.

6. Pulling all nighters, ever.

If you don't understand it by midnight, you won't understand it any better by five in the morning. You'll do so much better with less studying and more sleep than the other way around. Take the L and go to bed.

7. Waiting until the very last minute to start studying for your finals.

This is what typically leads to the aforementioned all-nighters. If you have an exam in two weeks, start studying NOW. Give yourself time to figure out what you need to focus on and get in contact with your professor or a tutor if necessary. Do yourself the favor.

8. Getting blackout drunk Friday and Saturday night...every weekend.

A lot of college students like to drink. That's fine, I get it, college is stressful and you just want to have a good time. But you don't have to go out every night of every weekend and drink so much you don't remember anything that didn't occur between Monday-Friday every week. Give yourself a break from drinking every so often.

9. Getting iced coffee before class and being late because of it.

I always make sure I get to campus early if I plan to get Starbucks, which I often do. It's rude to come in late, and it's detrimental to your education to consistently miss class. Your coffee can wait if you're running late. Plan better next time.

10.  Committing to 10 different extracurriculars because "it'll boost your resume if you have more on it!"

If you only participate in one club where you're the head of marketing and the treasurer, that will look SO much better than if you participated in five clubs but were just...there for all of them. Excel in one thing rather than being mediocre in many.

11.  Skipping class whenever you feel like it.

You can take the occasional mental health day, but if you're just being lazy, you're only hurting yourself. Go to class. You're paying a lot of money for it, after all.

12.  Spending every last penny you have to go somewhere for spring break (Daytona Beach, anyone?).

"Broke" college kids always end up taking the most extravagant spring break vacations. I'm sure it's fun and you'll cherish the memories, but wouldn't you cherish that $500 more if you saved it for things you actually need rather than living off of ramen for a month when you get home?

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Social Media Can Bridge The Gap Of Communication Between The Two Genders

We have small devices hidden in the back pockets of our jeans that give us access to billions of users across the Internet, and all it takes is one post to spark a revolution.

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You spend time at least once a week going through your social feed. You even spend time once a day going through your social feed.

There is a power in the words you speak and post online, and these very words can impact others' lives, negatively or positively. As an example, according to the Huffington Post, women are met with being "…ignored, trivialized, or criticized by men…" online mainly because the rift between the two genders prevents proper communication.

Gender equality can be achieved by online engagement, or posting. In some cases, though, the opposite can be true. I personally love Instagram and will occasionally find myself scrolling through posts recommended by the platform itself simply so I can waste time and complain about that later. A few weeks ago, I happened to be relapsing into my Instagram addiction and found myself particularly drawn to a certain post by Rowan Blanchard, which had a caption reading that "Cis men are violent and dangerous and until numbers prove [her] wrong [she] won't be able to not make statements that can't be read as vague."

Now, MSNBC identifies activism today as "…easier than ever…" thanks to social media, with "…[facilitated] public dialogues and… a platform for awareness…," but the caption of Blanchard's post shown is not activism at its finest. In a brief synopsis, activist Rowan Blanchard, who you may know from the show "Girl Meets World," addresses her distaste for men, going so far as to generalizing them as dangerous. In my opinion, this is one step backward in the fight for equality rather than a step forward.

Men and women alike have our differences that we consistently brush over in angry online comments but never truly sit down and discuss. The presence of a civil conversation between members of opposing sides of the gender argument is astonishing, and I myself have never seen one online. These conversations act like haunting illusions of a future we can only dream of, as if such a situation is purely unattainable otherwise.

We fawn over the thought, calling ourselves servants at the hands of a society where men and women can join each other and claim that there is no reason to feel unequal. The idea is breathtaking, and the friendships between men and women would be endless. Unfortunately, modern-day social media displays misogyny, misandry, animosity and all forms of verbal destruction against both genders that I feel sorry to merely acknowledge.

Before I took a break from being active on social media, I used Instagram to showcase my thoughts on these issues. I found it compelling to have an audience of my close friends and acquaintances listening as I explained and rationalized about online sexism repeatedly.

Occasionally, the topic sparked up friendly conversation about disagreements, and being honest, I felt threatened by how unthreatening the discussion was. It was as if I was asking for a reason to feel angry, to feel offended, but I instead was met with the harsh reality that social media can allow engagement in normal conversation.

The culture that revolves around online discussion is brash and led by emotion rather than by statistics, and while Blanchard may claim that she wants precise statistics before she alters her position against men, many online still fail to recognize the validity of such numbers. Her use of a hasty generalization clearly shows the lack of structure within her argument; I may be solely pointing her out, but her rationale stands as an example of the obstacles we face in the path to gender equality.

MSNBC used Twitter demographics to explain the impact of current events revolving around gender debates on the amount of discussion about sexism, and the results show that social media holds power. It holds hope and determination and serves as a pathway to a society where we may be able to hold hands and know we have no fear of being inferior to one another. Our generation is accustomed to seeing this magnitude of a response online, but when imagining every person who tweeted about this, there is potential change that we can visualize.

We have small devices hidden in the back pockets of our jeans that give us access to billions of users across the Internet, and all it takes is one post online to go viral. Within minutes, we can reach out to hundreds or thousands of people, updating them about our lives. With the ability to contact an enormous number of people, the only question you are left to ask yourself is, "How will you bring about a positive change to social equality?"

Your response to this question is being awaited every moment of your life.

Disclaimer: Please note that this has been a speech previously submitted as an assignment in a class.

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