Over the course of the pandemic, it is hard to find things that seem relaxing. It sounds weird to say but being stuck in quarantine can cause a lot of stress and burnout, even though it seems like we have more time on our hands. I have been journaling since about 2014, which is a long time looking back. About 6 of these journals lay on my nightstand, some being old and worn and others brand new. Each contains details about my daily routine, memories with my friends, and what was popular throughout my teen years. I am so lucky to have a time capsule and an outlet that helps me de-stress, which is why I highly recommend getting one.
I got my first journal on Christmas Day going into 8th grade. My cousin, who is an amazing writer, bought one special for me and wrote a note to go along with it. It read “I hope you are still and always writing”. Thinking about this memory makes me happy. I graduate from college in about a year and I am hoping to go into Journalism and Magazine/Publishing, so yes of course I am still writing. After that December, I could not get enough. I wrote down the highs and lows of high school, the friendships, the crushes, even what I ate for lunch. As I got a second, third, and even fourth journal, I started adding mementos, drawings, and pictures to remind me of all these amazing experiences I was having.
The key with a journal is to not put pressure on it. In TV shows, movies, and other media it’s always “Dear Diary…” every night before bed. In my head, I used to think that if I didn’t write in it every day then it wasn’t worth it. I either had to be fully in or fully out, but that is not the case. I have left my journals on the shelf for months at a time, the pages sitting patiently, thinking my life came to a sudden halt. Of course, my writing has evolved since middle school. What I scribbled down when I was 14 does not come close to the pages I write now. It is weird to see yourself grow up in that sense, what I used to think was important and how I valued what everyone thought of me. It seems minuscule, but I actually love to look back at how I was worried about what I was wearing to the 8th-grade dance or how college applications were so stressful. It proves to me that I have grown into the person I wanted to be, and I have accomplished so many things that I thought were impossible in journal #1. I do wish I wrote in my current journal more. I want to remember history so I can hand it over to my kids and say THIS is what college was, but it’s so hard. Balancing being a full-time student, having an internship, and trying to keep up a lot of different responsibilities takes a toll on you. Oh, and we are also in a global pandemic. My journal is on the back burner and I can feel it staring at me every time I sit on Tik Tok or Instagram.
So here is my advice to myself, and to you. Making time to write is extremely important. Justine 5 years ago would have wanted to know every detail of her life at 21, but that’s ok. Now, I have a journal that is representative of the year we have been through: chaotic. One page is my ranking of Evermore, Taylor’s most recent album, the others are to-do lists or paragraphs about little joys I am finding during these hard times. What I know is that I feel better and rewarded after every time I close it or flip to a blank page. This feels like a journal entry in itself, but I hope some part of my anecdote inspired you to create and just de-stress. We all need some form of pen to paper, and journaling is mine.