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My Relationship with Journaling through the Pandemic

I always loved writing. Actually — correction — I love to write, present tense. 

It is much easier to write everything down in order to process what I am feeling. Add to that the satisfaction of starting with an empty page and finishing with one filled with not only ink (I like to write with a pen) but also a captured moment in my life. I have so many journals, notebooks, and diaries that contain my thoughts and feelings dating back to when I first learned how to write. One thing that they all share in common is the fact that none of them are completely filled up. 

I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think I’ve ever completely filled up a book. I tend to move on to one that looks cuter or seemingly misplace my current journal — I mean, I don’t always intend on moving on, things just happen and I “start over.” I believed that every new journal represents a new version of myself — one that was better AND one that would finish the journal cover to cover. However, it never actually happened and still hasn’t for those who are curious, and I fell into the same mindset at the start of 2020. I got a plain white 240-page journal, thinking I would finish precisely on December 31st, as one does. I would write, doodle, take notes, plan — basically anything and everything I wanted in this journal. Then February happened, and I didn’t use it for a week. 

I told myself I wouldn’t take a break again, but then a couple of weeks later, the same thing happened. I tried to convince myself that if I didn’t use the journal every day, I would never finish it, and it would end up like every other journal sitting in my room. That logic worked for a while, but then the task seemed too daunting. I felt like all of my journal spreads needed to look like the ones on Instagram and Pinterest. 

It was during this time the whole COVID-19 situation went into full force. School was taking place online, and I was too confused about what was going on to focus on trying to journal. A couple of weeks into the pandemic my English teacher started forcing us to write down how we felt about our current situation, so I opened my journal. I did write a few times, but it still felt weird. I had these expectations on how everything should look, so it was tough to write with all the pressure. There would be days when I used it all day and weeks when I would forget about it. 

This process continued for a while, and then… college started. I was too busy trying to understand my new workload and how university was going to be to worried about journaling. I would see my book on my desk or a bookshelf, but I would ignore it, thinking about all the other things I could be doing instead of journaling. 

Months passed, and nothing changed, it seemed like another year would pass, and another journal would be left partially filled. Soon December came, and I found myself on the other side of finals. I was done with my first semester of college, and I didn’t have anything to do other than relax and enjoy the holidays that came with winter. That was when I picked my journal back up and started to write a little bit. Every couple of days, I would add a page or a page and a half of words. Because of this, I thought I should include my journal as a part of the list of things I would be bringing to campus for the Spring semester. 

However, once in New York, I didn’t touch my journal. The same thing that happened at the start of the Fall semester occurred; I was adjusting to life on campus. 

January and February passed, putting me at the start of my Spring Break. During this break, I found a video of someone talking about journaling simply to journal — not for the look of it. They talked about how journaling has become hard to get into for so many people because of all the journaling photos, spreads, and inspiration online. 

The one thing that stuck out for me was the idea of writing to get your thoughts out. It wasn’t supposed to be perfect or make complete sense. Journaling is supposed to help you come closer to understanding how you are feeling now, what you want to feel, etc. It’s supposed to act as the tool that helps you reach your end product, not the actual end product. 

After this video, I started journaling a lot more. It’s not every day, but I don’t let that stop me from picking up from where I left off. 

Journaling isn’t perfect, and I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to write once you realize this.


Mahati Shastry

Columbia Barnard '24

Mahati is a sophomore at Barnard who is excited to experience the wonder that is NYC. She loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. Even though she is just entering the Barnard family, she already feels like she’s at home. Currently, she is undecided but is very interested in political science and human rights. :)
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