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This week, in light of a little bit of free time and some session A classes drawing to a close, I decided to dare myself to journal for the week. Every night, as soon as my backpack touched the floor, I pulled out an old, half-empty composition notebook and wrote about the day. It’s a common practice, so I’m not exactly going to commend myself for creativity, but it took more discipline than I’m used to. 

The first day was a little difficult. I stared at a blank page for a while, picking through the things that I thought were relevant or interesting, focalizing my day within the perspective of an imaginary reader. That’s just my writer inclination, I suppose, but it took me quite a bit of reminding to know that the words were for me and me alone. As someone who struggles with people-pleaser tendencies, sometimes I think that I’ve forgotten the things that only I enjoy, in a private, self-involved kind of way. 

I’ll blame my first failed journal attempt on my long day and droning night class. It was too ingenuine and, despite my attempts, not really me. It’s my Mulligan; the next day, I’d take a shot at it again, since the first went so curiously wrong. 

On day two, I was determined to do better. I brewed a cup of English breakfast tea in my microwave and dimmed the lights. I started to write about the day. I went through it slowly, chronologically: I talked about my anxiety before certain classes, the doubts I had in friendly conversations, and my overall jumble of thoughts. The more I wrote down, the easier it became. The stresses of some sort of outside perception of me faded away until I was completely and totally alone with myself. Vaguely, that isolation was always scary, considering the fears and thoughts I never wanted to address at all. But somehow, tackling them alone, in my small, four-walled home, was easier. 

I won’t bore you with the specifics of the rest of the week. I mostly talked about my friends, my classes, and my phone calls with my sister. I live a boring life, which is why I think I was so hesitant to exert energy into its documentation. I never wanted to waste an ounce of time on something that doesn’t mean anything, but over the course of this week, I realized it doesn’t have to necessarily be meaningful. 

The practice of journaling is about slowing down. Especially within the context of the last few years, we’ve had to deal with an immense amount of globally-charged change. That has had an impact on you, whether or not you’ve given yourself time to recognize it. Taking even 10 minutes to jot down a funny moment or some footnote in a book that stood out to you, I realized, is enough. I’m naturally a very high-strung person, as those who know me can attest to, so taking that small sliver of time to do something personal and stressless helped with my mood. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and even started sleeping a little bit better. 

I may not implement this practice into my life as a daily thing, considering my class load and job, but still, moving forward, I will continue this practice, and I encourage you to give it a try, even if it’s just for a day. It doesn’t even have to be journaling, if writing isn’t your thing. Dare yourself to try something new this week, something geared toward your mental health or relaxation. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up a full time puzzler or bullet journal fanatic. Try something new and seize the day. 

Mia Milinovich is a freshman at Barrett, the Honors College, studying English (Literature) and Journalism & Mass Communications. Mia enjoys writing, reading, listening to murder-mystery podcasts, and going to random, last-minute concerts. Catch her always in line for a cup of coffee or curating pretentiously specific Spotify playlists. Instagram: @miamilinov
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