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The moment my best friend gifted me a journal in eighth grade, everything changed for me. I began writing everything from my thoughts to my memories to my dramatic middle school issues. It wasn’t always consistent, and there were months that I wrote more than others, but that first journal opened the door for four more books I would eventually write about the current events of my life throughout high school and now college. 

Whenever I suggest journaling to a friend or talk about my experience with it, it’s easy for someone to quickly reject the idea because it’s “too hard to keep up with it” or “writing takes too long.” To me, it’s more than these two reasons, and with a bit of a perspective shift, people would be able to see journaling in a new light and potentially discover a new love and hobby.

I found it a bit easier to enjoy the art of journaling because I naturally enjoy writing, but it’s more than that. I’ve always struggled with the thought of venting about my feelings to someone — I didn’t want to overwhelm them or open up too much. With my journal, I never have to worry about that. It’s a safe space with no judgment and where you can talk in circles about the same thing that’s bothering you, and there’s still more space to keep going. It’s also a reflection tool. I look back at my journals from my freshman year of high school, and I see my growth as a person and how my problems back then were only temporary bruises. With that, it’s also a reminder that in a few years, I’ll look back onto my current journal and feel the same way about the things I rant about now and know not to take everything too seriously.

Journaling is also not something that needs to occur daily. People can sometimes shy away from writing simply because of the supposed commitment. I write whenever I want to talk about something exciting and don’t want to forget how I’m feeling. I write when memories are fresh, so I can look back later and relive some good moments. However, I also tend to write when my heart feels heavy, and I need to let it out onto the pages. It’s therapeutic the way it can feel like a negative feeling has left me and has a new home in my journal, for me to look back, learn a lesson from it, and continue to grow. My journals have become my confidants, and when I start writing and growing that relationship with them, it becomes easier to want to keep going and update it often.

I recommend journaling to everyone, but more exclusively to someone who needs a friend or a place to rant about their feelings or concerns and has a hard time opening up to people in real life. Journaling is a great outlet to increase your own self-awareness about your perspective on the things happening around you. Especially during the start of your 20s when things feel the most chaotic yet bittersweet (leaving home, college, new relationships, etc.), it’s important to keep up with yourself and stay true to who you are. 

Julia Zanatta is a sophomore at University of Central Florida. This is her first year writing for Her Campus, and she is so grateful to be a part of the team. She is majoring in English, Creative Writing track. In her free time, she likes to read, journal, paint, and listen to music.
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