How Journaling Saved my Life (Again and Again)

I remember walking through Books-A-Million with my father at the age of 13. During our usual browse around the store, I stumbled upon a section entitled ‘Journals’ written in cursive. My curiosity peaked, and I began thumbing through journals in hopes of finding one that satisfied my desire for writing. I knew then that I wanted to adopt a new hobby and writing became one that changed my life forever.

                I am so thankful for that day, and my father’s will to satisfy my wants. We ended up checking out a Psalms journal. I was more religious than spiritual at the time so most of my entries consisted of prayers and ‘Thank You’ letters to God. Eventually, I began writing about my day-to-day activities and inner thoughts, and that’s when I realized: writing gave me a sense of confidentiality, privacy, and security that I lacked elsewhere at the time. I knew that if I had a bad day or wanted to pick up a new habit that I could come home and write about it. I ultimately viewed my journal as my confidant; something I could tell everything to without the fear of being judged.

                I’m 21 now, and since receiving my first journal at the age of 13 I have completed (almost) two of them throughout the years. I’ve formed deep connections to both and although I don’t journal every night, I write in a manner that is detailed enough for me to remember myself if I was to lose memory of who I am and what I’ve gone through. Doing so has aided me in ways that were once unimaginable. I’m able to re-read old entries and remember my worldview, how my interests have changed, and ultimately have my growth in-hand.

                Making my writing thoughtfully reflective has allowed journaling to become my written guide through life. Articulating my thoughts onto paper assists my growth and healing tremendously as it encourages me to do proper introspection. For instance, viewing how I handled previous situations enables me to change my perspective and ask myself why I behaved in the manner that I did and if behaving the same way would be beneficial. Addressing all ranges of my emotions via writing has created a safe space for me to show up as myself and not feel inclined to shame.

                You can create the journaling experience to be anything you’d like. I set the atmosphere for writing by lighting a candle, playing soft music and (maybe) grabbing a glass of wine. I understand that everyone has their own methods of self-expression and emotional release, but this is me encouraging you to pick up a pen and paper and offer yourself a delicate release. If only for a moment. If only about how the clouds looked one day or the number of stars you could count at night. Sit down with yourself and address everything and anything you have wanted to. If you’re already someone who journals frequently, I challenge you to encourage others to do the same. You never know whose life you may change by doing so.