While on vacation, I took a moment to read some early entries in my current journal. I have been journaling pretty consistently since I was about 13. During college I started titling my journals. It was my way of naming the current chapter of my life. Then usually around the time I was about to run out of pages in my journal a new one would leap out to me at a book store or I would receive one as a gift. The next chapter of my life was ready to start.
For the past two or so years I have been using an old journal. One of the first ones that I started writing in when I started journaling. It was a gift from my Aunt that has guided questions in it. What is the weather today? News about family and friends? Current activities? What brightened your day? What have you done to brighten someone else’s day? Then a general section to account things going on in your life. At some point when I was fourteen I abandoned the journal.
As a writer, people often gift me journals so I have a pretty large collection of them waiting to have their pages covered in my words. When I picked this one up again to start writing in it I guess I was looking for the comfort of guided questions.
Looking at old entries from my 13 year old self the memories flooded back. Old friends, first crushes. The voice was so different than my current one. It was interesting looking back and seeing repeating themes and desires. Seeing how I have changed and not changed.
Then my husband and I went to visit the interpretive center where we were staying. We took our vacation at Ft. Stevenson State Park. It was our lucky day because the center was open late in the season due to a festival going on in the town nearby. The lovely old man at the gift shop said he was willing to take us through the small two room building and share with us some facts about the fort.
One of the facts struck a chord with me. He said that the General of the Fort had kept a journal. It was from this that they were able to gain an idea of what life was like for the soldiers. The man from the gift shop was able to share funny anecdotes about the soldiers and fort life based on the General’s journal. For example, through the journal they learned that many soldiers were put in the fort jail often. They were a rowdy bunch not just blank faces in an old photo.
All of this has made me realize how important it is to journal. To keep a record of your life. You never know how important that journal may be later. The perspective you can gain about yourself and about the changing world in general.
While social media has made it easier to keep an account of your life there is something false about this account. How many people report factually to their 500+ stranger friends about the comings and goings of their life? Social media has made each person a celebrity.
So this makes journaling all the more important. A journal is a space just for you and those you choose to share it with. There is no reason to lie to yourself about what is going on. No reason to try to paint things better than they are so that you will get more likes or comments. The blank page of a journal is a free space where you can share how you feel and what you truly think without having someone tear you down for it.
As we head into the second month of the new year I encourage to you to take a moment and journal. You never know how important your words may be later to future generations. Or even just for you.