When I was younger I would write in a journal often. Usually about my family, or various trips that we took. As I got older though, the act of journaling felt silly. My writing focus turned to school assignments and blog posts. Recently, I have fallen in love with writing in a journal again, but it took me awhile. I was always buying journals and dreaming up ways I would fill the pages with goals, or ideas. Whenever I sat down to just write about my life, I would hesitate. I would find myself thinking, “What if someone finds this and reads what I have written about them.”Eventually, I accepted it wasn’t about who read it, the journal was my outlet and mine alone. I reminded myself writing in a journal used to be something I did for joy, instead of because I felt that I had to. I started with a simple concept, just write about your day. So I would sit and let all my feelings, and thoughts out on the pages. Some days I feel like I don’t have a lot to write about. Other days I am constantly thinking about what I want to jot down in my journal throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll keep going and fill two pages instead of my usual one. Now it is the highlight of my evening, getting to sit down and write about my day.
The biggest example of how writing in a journal helped me, was to move on after a break-up. It was an extremely difficult ending to a four-year relationship, and the first few weeks I was a mess. I started to write in my journal about how I was feeling, and the reasons I knew we could not be together. I was more honest with myself, and focus on the negative ways the relationship had impacted my life. When I would start to think about him again, I could look at the reasons in my journal as to why it hadn’t worked out. Having the words physically in my hands made it that much more real. The pages reminded me that there was no going back, and that was okay. I had to move on, and I was going to be way better without him. I just had to keep going. In another way, it helped because instead of relying on a partner to listen to my feelings, I made the journal listen. It turns out the journal is actually a better listener! I was able to get everything off my chest without fear of being judged by someone else. This journal took all my anxiety about being alone, about starting over, and turned it into a positive fresh start. Every day I write about how much better I am doing, and the amazing things I am accomplishing. Sure, there are setbacks, but I write about those too. After about two weeks of journaling, I am thinking about my past relationship barely at all, and it’s amazing. I’m able to observe my progress I am making every day, and how much better I am doing without that kind of negative influence in my life!
Another way my life has improved since I began writing in a journal, is to help me view my life in a positive light. This journal helped me start over. It helped me hold accountability for my goals, and I was able to express the joy in completing them daily. On days I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted, I would write about ways to improve. Journaling left me feeling less anxious, and more stable about my daily decisions. I really felt some of my anxiety slip away through the first week of this process. Finally, I felt like I was following through with something. Every day I was able to discuss my goal progress in a relaxed way. I felt so much more grateful for the small improvements I made each day. Even though most of the things I was accomplishing during the day were all towards bigger goals, I had to take baby steps to get there. Writing in my journal every night was a way to look at the progress I had made that day, and be proud of it. Instead of being upset I only got in one hour of writing, I was happy I had done any at all. Through writing in a journal I was able to express why I had only gotten in that much writing, and be grateful for it. For example, one day I had set aside the whole afternoon to write, and then my brother wanted to go to the movies. I felt like this was a good use of my time because I was spending time with my brother. If another day I watched TV longer than I should have and as a result wasn’t as productive, I would journal about that too. This helped me remember how I felt, and why it was more important to spend my time on my goals. This process kept me motivated in the coming days to focus, and be better. By being accountable for my time, I was able to see how I was using it wisely, and how I was wasting it. Through being more positive, I have also become more grateful.
After taking up writing in a journal again I also felt like I was more present in my everyday life. Instead of relishing on certain things that would bother me, or why something happened that day, I was able to remind myself these are all thoughts I could save for the journal. Then continue my regular day at hand, and be in the moment. It also helped me not constantly obsess over things that upset me. As a result, I also was finding a better quality of sleep. I found myself falling asleep quicker because I had gotten all my thoughts for the day out. I recently found an old friend from New York took on a position I had been dying for. It wasn’t anything big, just running Instagram for my favorite bar. Still, I was crushed. I had plenty of opportunities to start the work but had never followed through because I was too busy. When I saw on Instagram that she was running it, I immediately felt at a loss. That night I wrote about it in my journal. I expressed all my true feelings, that her pictures weren’t that good, and her hashtags sucked. But I digress. While normally this is something that would bother me for weeks, hell maybe even months, I found myself forgetting about it the next day. That was all it took, putting all my negative thoughts on to paper, and letting them stay there. I got it out, and sometimes that’s all we need to do!
Writing in my journal has become a way for me to decompress at the end of each day. Sometimes I am feeling a lot, and it is nice to express those thoughts without judgment. I am able to analyze how I spend my time and track progress on my goals. I found that by letting all the crazy thoughts in my head out at the end of the day helped me slow down. I was able to focus on getting the negativity out and letting the positivity carry me forward. Each night I am sleeping better, and every day I am improving more. I could not be more thankful for the new outlook on life journaling has brought me. It was the fresh start I needed, and now I might never put the pen down.