Journal/ Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

Making the case for keeping a journal

What is journalling? Putting pen to paper, enshrining your thoughts into words, and making them permanent, is a divisive topic. You either don’t understand the hype around it or absolutely love it.

The art of journalling does not lie in excessive daily writing. The practice is meant to be more fluid than rigid. It is a way of encapsulating a version of yourself for the future, to reflect upon what thoughts orbited in your mind during a particular chapter in your life. It is about time we reconsider the approach towards journalling that currently predominates, where it is either another pending to-do on an already overwhelming list, or a practice only reserved for the unreachable ‘clean girl’ lifestyle. Journalling is what we make of it, so let me introduce you to its benefits and my personal experience with keeping a diary.

In my childhood home, I have a box containing every single artefact of my life, from train tickets to birthday cards and, of course, diaries. I have kept little booklets for as long as I can remember. Flipping through these booklets reminds me of the different phases of life I have experienced. Reading the Hello Kitty journal written during primary school reminds me of the girl who wrote down the names of the boys she fancied with hearts and doodled her best friends experiencing a sunrise together. In another journal, I am confronted with the aggravated mind of a 15-year-old teenager, angry at the world, who felt imprisoned by her parents for not letting her go clubbing every weekend and desperately craved freedom to achieve the teenage dream.

These journals make me cringe, giggle, and remember situations I considered all-consuming but, in hindsight, truly were just a part of that version of myself. Writing these moments of my life down is an attempt to make them somehow everlasting. It’s my best effort at trying to mark their significance and calm the overwhelming wave of nostalgia that overpowers me when I think about how fast time flies. Documenting events means trying to prove to yourself that, at some point, the person you used to be was so overwhelmed by emotions that all you wanted to do was demonstrate how impactful they truly were.

At its core, journalling is a way of reflecting and getting to know yourself better

So how should we go about journalling? How can you overcome the starting period, in which it may seem like you are forcing yourself to write rather than effectively reflect? Well, it’s through understanding that you are indeed the master of your own journal. In today’s society, it’s easy for us to feel constantly monitored. We all have profiles on various platforms such as Instagram, Spotify, and LinkedIn. We continuously try to portray ourselves in the specific way we want to be perceived by others. All of this can make keeping a diary feel highly vulnerable. However, we must realise that journalling offers the possibility to unravel our thoughts to just ourselves in a way that pictures or memories alone would never be able to.

Countless studies have reported that journalling can help control mental health symptoms and increase self-awareness by providing an outlet for expression. The form this outlet can take on is up to you to decide. Recently, Apple launched a new Journal app to record everyday moments and special occasions, introducing digital journalling to a broader audience. The app has features like reminders, adding locations, audio/visual recordings, and music from other apps. If you feel more comfortable taking advantage of what the digital world has to offer, give it a go! The most important thing is to find a journal practice that works for you and feels sustainable. Although I personally prefer to use my physical journal, I must admit that having the chance to document your feelings so conveniently on your phone, which by default everyone has with them at all times, offers the opportunity to reflect on events more instantly or add additional thoughts that come to your mind randomly.

Journalling is a beautiful experience, a time machine, therapist, and best friend all in one

Some may see journalling as a consequence of the ‘main character syndrome’ epidemic that has plagued our society, especially the younger generations. Main character syndrome revolves around the belief that one is somehow more important than everyone else who exists just as a part of one’s own experience. To some extent, journalling romanticises encounters and relationships by feeding into social expectations and exaggerating feelings. I feel that is justifiable, because there is no harm in glorifying your life a bit. At its core, journalling is a way of reflecting and getting to know yourself better. It is like having a conversation with yourself: analysing how you currently feel about the people in your life and about the issues you are facing.

I urge you to take some time out of your daily life to spend it with yourself through the medium of journalling. It doesn’t matter if it is a digital or traditional journal. There are countless prompts on the internet to get started, or just sit down, play your favourite songs, and write whatever comes to mind. I promise that in the future, you will be grateful to have a portal into your current state of life. Journalling is a beautiful experience, a time machine, therapist, and best friend all in one – just a click or pen away. At its core, journalling is a way of reflecting and getting to know yourself better.


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