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Journaling Helped Me a Lot, & it Might Help You, Too

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UGA chapter.

Back in January, I was going through a really rough time, and I found that my usual outlets were not helping me how they usually did. My comfort shows were boring me, my “feel better” playlist wasn’t doing its job, and I just did not feel like confiding or venting to anyone at the moment. One of my friends told me to get a journal and I agreed, but I was also very apprehensive about it.

I tried bullet journaling in high school; I bought a super nice notebook, stickers, markers, and pens, but I’m just not very artistic. I couldn’t draw really well, and I didn’t know how to do the super nice calligraphy that was on all of the Pinterest inspiration pictures.

Being afraid that I wouldn’t have a nice enough journal like everyone else really put me off the idea for a while, and then I was afraid it would feel like a chore that I had to do every day. I bought the journal anyway (it’s a Paperage journal, and I love it so far!) and it just sat on my desk for a month. I knew that the bullet journal thing wasn’t for me, so I went to TikTok for ideas on what else I could do with it.

I saw a lot of different things, some people kept their strictly to writing, like a diary. Some people mainly used pictures they printed out to create collages, and some used a mix of both. Some people did simpler versions of bullet journal designs and a whole bunch of other things. But the one thing that stood out the most to me was that almost every person emphasized the fact that there are no rules to journaling. You can do whatever you want because it’s yours. And nobody has to see it unless you want them to because your journal is your private, personal space. It can be whatever you want it to be. You don’t have to write every single day, either.

I finally picked it up one random day in February. I used my favorite notetaking pen — a black Pilot G2 0.7mm — and got to work. I put on a random playlist and just wrote until I felt better. It was nice being able to just let everything out without feeling as if I was bothering someone by venting to them. I also wrote everything in the exact way I was thinking it, so I didn’t have to worry about grammar or spelling, and I was able to just word vomit until I said all I wanted to say.

I honestly felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was more relaxed and looking forward to the next time I’d write. I started a Pinterest board with ideas of simple pages I knew I could easily replicate or adapt to my abilities. I bought stickers from Redbubble to decorate the cover of my journal. Now I’ve added journaling to my list of hobbies, and anytime something happens, one of my first thoughts is “I can’t wait to put this in my journal.”

Since then, I’ve been doing cutesy themed pages and just writing down my good days, my bad days, my random thoughts, and any feelings that I have. It’s been such a good way to relax, and it’s honestly helped my mental health in so many ways. I have a new outlet to release whatever’s been weighing on me, and I get to clear my head. It’s even better when I do it with a show or movie on in the background, and I even have three different playlists I use to fit the vibes of whatever I’m journaling that day. I took inspiration from Taylor Swift who categorized her songs into three groups — “Fountain Pen,” “Quill Pen.” and “Glitter Gel Pen.”

She said Fountain Pen songs are for personal storytelling, so I use those when I’m writing general entries about my day or what’s going on, so I have songs like “Broken Clocks” by SZA and Taylor’s “You’re Own Your Own Kid” on there. Quill Pen songs are supposed to be deep and poetic, so on my playlist for this group, I added “23” by Reneé Rapp and “Last Words of a Shooting Star” by Mitski on this one. Quill Pen songs are for when I’m really trying to bare my soul and release every emotion possible. The Glitter Gel Pen songs are songs that are upbeat and fun and make you want to dance. I use this one when I’m doing a more crafty, fun, detailed page. Some songs on here are “Hype Boy” by NewJeans and “Cherry” by Rina Sawayama.

The main thing to note is that journaling is what you make of it. Don’t let what others do or don’t do in their journal intimidate you or turn you away. I don’t have a ton of stickers or washi tape or decorative markers, but I still have fun because I make the experience my own. Just having a journal you like and a pen you always use will already make for a good time. Don’t try to force yourself into a routine, and any extra stress is relieved. Do what I did; watch some videos and scroll through socials to see what catches your eye and what doesn’t.

If you’re stuck in a rut, wanting something new to do, or are going through what I went through with anxiety about bothering people with venting, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to pick up some paper and pen. It’s a good way to clear your mind, and it helps you get in tune with your own emotions because you’re not suppressing them.

Happy journaling!

Gabby Floyd is a fourth year Special Education major at UGA. She loves social justice, Olive Garden breadsticks, and Spider-Man movies. In her free time, she's usually reading, binge watching Glee, or making niche Spotify playlists.