The Benefits Of Writing In A Journal
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You're Bound To Forget The Past, So Write In A Daily Journal To Keep Your Memories Alive

Here's to the memories you've already forgotten. Here's to the ones you're going to make.

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Girl writing in her journal

When I was 17, I wrote a letter to Future Me. It was very short and very messy, scrawled on a page-and-a-half of a faux-leather journal I got from a good friend on my 15 birthday. I found this journal the other day when I was cleaning out my bookshelf. The lined pages, held together by cheap wax at the inner binding, had separated completely from the cover, but they held up strong as I thumbed through the years of entries. The last entry was the letter I had written to myself, dated April 3rd, 2016, during the last dregs of senior year.

Dear Future Lucy,
I hope you are happy where you are.
I hope you remember little old me, on the verge of being 18, still into Phan, not so much Les Mis. I hope prom with Rushil was nice, I hope prom weekend was unforgettable. I hope summer '16 was good.
I know that you're sad reading this. You're such a sap. Don't be sad. Let this be a reminder to you of the simpler times. I hope you made good friends, but maybe you should text Hina. Or Ria. Or the others. We're all scattering soon. Text Maggie or Winnie. Text Nick! Tell him you love and miss him, because you do. I hope you kept that promise you made.
If you're reading this in college and you're trying to finish an essay, 1) same, and 2) don't give up. I hope the workload is nothing like the Corsun Killer. The stress is probably enormous, but we'll get through it. We always do.
Here's to the memories you've already forgotten. Here's to the ones you're going to make.
With love,
Lucy

Everyone knows the feeling of being at the twilight of high school. Even now, two years removed from that time of bubbling anxiety and expectation, I still remember that phantom stone in my stomach. Two years later and now settled comfortably into the nook of the present, I still can imagine that tension, as if for four years I and everyone around me had been holding in a collective breath.

I didn't notice while I was reading this letter that I had begun to hold my breath again, begun to feel that familiar stone dropping back into my stomach. Growing up is weird. Not an interesting or novel idea, but it is a big and freezing moment when you realize you're nothing like who you were just a few years ago. When you feel the guilt of forgetting about things you once held so dearly. You become angry with yourself for the lapses in memory, surprised at the ease with which old faces and feelings are crowded out by the new. Sad about the promises you break or forget to keep.

There's no way to describe the grief that comes with the death of a memory, of one that used to be alive and full and real, but now is just a supercut of blurred shapes and noise. Sometimes a sight or a smell can trigger for a brief moment a cascade of vivid reminiscence. I'll smell a certain kind of soap and suddenly I'm in the bathroom by the gym between classes, fixing side bangs while girls sit on porcelain sinks to have conversations and take mirror selfies. Or seeing the egg-bulge of an EOS sticking out of someone's pocket will take me back to eighth grade English class and our Shakespeare unit, when I subconsciously slathered on mint chapstick before reciting Juliet's monologue to my crush (as Romeo) during a reenactment of the balcony scene.

Unfortunately, you can't pick which moments your memory clings to.

Reading this letter threw me back into the $8 Target canvas shoes of a girl on the edge of 17, looking over the cliff before the gust pushed her gently into the abyss of adulthood. Of a girl who thought she knew who she was and what she wanted. I can't believe how much forgetting there is in growing up. I was wrong at 17, and I know this at 20. 10 years down the line, 30-year-old me will shake her head and laugh with the same amused bemusement. The things I learned then, did I have to forget them to learn what I know now? How much of yourself will you have to let go to grow? Do you ever really know who you are, if you are always forgetting who you were?

I can't count the ways I've changed in the space between Then and Now. What I do know is that I am so, so thankful I wrote it all down. Each thought put down on paper is priceless to me now, when remembering is a commodity I can't afford. I recommend keeping a journal or an album or some record that can capture the years that are bound to disappear into oblivion. No matter how cringe-worthy it will be to read through pages of pseudo-profundity, or how hard it will be to stomach the fuss and farce of Past You, Future You cannot be grateful enough. Believe me, I know.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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