Like most people, my life has had its ups and downs over the years.
One thing that stayed constant amidst all the change and uncertainty was the reliability of journaling. It was always something to return to without any fear of being judged or criticized.
This single activity has served as my therapy, guidance, and much more!
Here are some of the ways it has helped me maintain my sanity.
As a Child
I vaguely remember the first time I thought about keeping a journal. I was standing at the shelf of a stationery shop, enthralled with the pretty cover of a small journal.
My journaling was erratic during these years as I switched from journal to journal. Occasionally, I’d type my thoughts into an old digital organizer that I faithfully carried in my backpack.
The internet and personal computers started becoming mainstream just as I entered my early teenage years. I’m glad my childhood years were free from these technologies as it gave me the opportunity to discover the unadulterated joy and wonder of exploring my thoughts and feelings via pen and paper.
As a child, I realized the joy of being able to claim something as my own–emerging thoughts, reflections, short observations and notes of interesting events that had occurred throughout the day or week. It made me realize that I had a unique perspective which made my mind and personality something separate from others.
I didn’t journal consistently as a child. But that certainly changed when I entered my teen years.
As a Teenager
My teen years were characterized by wild mood swings (thanks, hormones!). My once infrequent journaling sessions turned into voracious midnight frenzies where I tried to make sense of the world around me.
My once stellar academic record gave way to angst about…everything. Some of my most intense mental and emotional experiences happened during this time of my life. I grappled with trying to make sense of romantic love, sexuality, and where I wanted to be as an adult.
The other thing I struggled with was the attempt to construct some semblance of a career direction. I had many different interests and felt pulled in many different directions.
Was I anti-social? Was I an avoidant personality type? Why did I feel so out of place from society so often?
All these and more poured into the pages of my journals, whether I chose to write my thoughts out by hand or through a keyboard and PC.
As an Adult
I have since become more mellow and focused past the age of thirty.
While I had some tribulations in my twenties, it was nowhere close to the feeling of discombobulation that accompanied my teenage years.
Now that I’m a bit more settled in some ways, journaling yet again offers me something reliable and refreshing to consistently return to.
These days, my aim with journaling has a more constructive element. Even if I feel like ranting or venting, I try to focus on a solution by the end of the rant so that I can create a better tomorrow in my own way. Being an IAJW member is one way to honor what journal writing means for me and many others around the globe!
Journaling is an intensely personal experience which requires no absolute right way or method of approach. What positive effects has journaling had on your life? :)
Guest Blogger: Jess Chua has been journaling since her tween years. She is a content writer for Optimal Living Daily podcast. Her portfolio can be viewed at Jess Virgo. She is also a Member of the IAJW.org