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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapel Hill chapter.

You are about to have your first child, and you are cleaning out an extra room to create a nursery. While clearing out the closet, you pick up a box containing a flimsy, worn book. You recognize it immediately. It is your old journal. You sit down and read over the words of your younger self, cringing at your teenage angst and fondly smiling at the scribbled memories of crushes and parties. You hold the leather-bound book tightly for a moment, before placing it gently back into its box. 

Fifteen years later, your daughter comes across the old box in the attic, while looking for a suitcase for her first trip without you. She is curious, just like her mother, and she cautiously opens the journal. She sees your handwriting, which piques her interest. She pockets the journal and grabs the aforementioned suitcase. While you are at work, she sits on her bed, combing through the pages, reading the words of her mother when she was her age. It is a personification of you that she holds dear. She doesn’t dare mention it when you get home, preferring to get to know the lady in the journal independently from the mother she loves. 

The journal takes her through crushes, broken hearts, first jobs, friendship blowups, scholarship rejections and college applications. While packing for college, she picks it up from the box under her bed and stows it with her coffee maker. Feeling all her emotions well up about leaving home, she takes a drive to all the spots in her hometown she remembers from her childhood. Before returning home, she passes by Barnes and Nobles and makes a spontaneous stop. That night, she starts her own journal in a brand new leather-bound book of her own.



This is the type of hypothetical that ran through my head, when I first started journaling. It was a great motivator; however, for one reason or another, it has failed to inspire me to write routinely. I try to remind myself of what a journal could mean to me or my loved ones in the future to get me to write, but that discipline makes something that should be an outlet feel like a chore.

I’ve had to figure out what relationship with my journal works for me. The daily or weekly check-ins seem trivial and completely cringe. Instead, I pick up my journal in bouts of emotion. I use it to make sense of my thoughts. Going back and reading it, when all the entries are full of emotion, makes the journal seem more valuable and rich. Some entries have literal tear marks on the page from the crying sessions I had as a teenager.

It is never too late to start writing down your life, if you feel that is something worth your time. If you have a similar hypothetical hallmark story in your head about the potential future of your journal, and that is something you want, do it. Don’t overthink it. Just grab whatever empty book you have and start writing. But make sure you develop a way of writing that works for the present you, not just the future you.

Katie Jackson

Chapel Hill '23

Katie is an undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill. She is part of the Campus Y Outreach Taskforce and HYPE Tutoring. Interested in sustainability, economics, and global culture and policy, Katie plans to study business, public policy, and environmental sciences. Katie loves her kitten named Hiccup (yes, from How to Train Your Dragon), her two dogs, her other kitten (even though it is technically her sister's) and her cat.