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I Started Journaling and This Is What Happened

For years, I’ve tried (and failed) to keep a journal. Maybe it was my attention span or my inner perfectionist, but no matter how hard I tried, I just could not succeed in my journaling endeavors.

In January, I went to Barnes and Noble, picked out the cutest journal I could find, and gave myself the goal of writing in it every day for the entire year. LOL. Of course, that did not go as planned, and I gave up after about two entries. Everything changed when I realized that what was keeping me from writing in my journal was the stress from feeling like I had to do it every single day in order to be successful. That’s completely not true! I started writing whenever I felt like it, never putting pressure on myself to be consistent. I sloppily wrote everything down as it came up in my head like a stream of consciousness, not worrying at all about making it look pretty. After taking the stress away from it, I began to find myself wanting to journal more and more, whether that be writing one entry in a week or three in a day. I also started to see real, positive effects as a result. Here are some of the things that I’ve noticed journaling has helped me with in my life:


1. It helped me work through my problems


There’s nothing more cathartic than getting all of your thoughts/feelings/emotions out on paper. I often found that during the process of writing all my problems down, I naturally began to find solutions to them. Also, if you feel like your thoughts are weighing you down, it feels so much better to get them out than to keep them in your head.


2. It helped me understand that the problems I was stressing over at the time were really no big deal


At the moment, it’s hard to realize this, because even the smallest of things can feel like the end of the world sometimes. But every once in a while, I’ll look back at some of my older journal entries and realize that no matter how earth-shattering things seemed at the time, everything always worked itself out in the end.


3. It helped me realize my goals


Being self-reflective through journaling really made me want to constantly grow as a person. Setting goals and hopes for the future, no matter how big or small, are super important for this. Also, the feeling of accomplishing something that you once set as a goal is pretty great, too.

Sarah Houtchens is in the class of '20 at JMU studying Media Arts and Design with a concentration in Journalism. She loves inspirational quotes and is in constant search of the world's best guacamole.
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