When I was nine, my grandma gave me a journal with a note inscribed into the front of it prompting me to write inside of the journal. She told me that she had been journaling since my age, and at the wise age of 83, she showed me how many journals she had filled since. There were so many I could not begin to count. When I asked her how she had enough to write about in each of them, she told me that she wrote whatever came to her mind, her thoughts, her anxieties, her joys and anything else in between. Since then, I have been writing in my journals and have already filled quite a few of them myself.

When I urge my friends to write in a journal, I am almost always met with the same response: “I don’t have anything to write about.” Journals are a collection of bound empty pages there for whatever it is you want to write. It does not have to resemble a diary in which you recall events of your day by any means. You can write poetry, business ideas, or dates that are important to you. I see my journal as something that holds that particular moment in time as it was when I wrote it because I was currently experiencing the thought, idea, or feeling. Journals can be used for sketching too, something I have often done when I am too exhausted to write words in the pages.

Journaling should not be forced but should be something you want to do so that at some point later in your life, you can reflect on these entries and see how much you have grown or changed. I have found my writing to be so rewarding. There are moments in my life that I completely forgot about until rereading old entries and, for this, I am forever thankful for my diligence in writing.

For me, journaling is a way for me to process what is going on around me. When I am not turning to a friend for advice, my journal is sitting there waiting for me to vent to or plead for help even if it is an inanimate object. As I write, I am forced to process whatever the situation may be and usually end up coming to some form of conclusion on my own. I have found that this is because physically writing my thoughts and feelings makes them more concrete and allows myself to accept what is happening and be able to move forward.

I think that journaling has made me much more in tune to myself outside the opinions of others. When it is just my journal and I, there are no expectations or secrets that should be withheld. There are no judgments or people I am trying to impress. I am able to be raw and real. I encourage every person to pick up a journal and start writing, even if it starts out as just writing one word per day.