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In January of 2015, I found my grade-nine-self walking through an Indigo bookstore in downtown Toronto. Just coming out of the holidays, I had a stack of gift cards for the store, which was the present choice of any relative who didn’t know what to get me. 

Walking through the store’s aisles, I stumbled along the stationary section and my 14-year-old self could not resist. With one less gift card in my wallet and a journal in my hand, I began my journey into the world of journaling. Despite frowning upon my younger self for buying overpriced stationery that would likely never get used, this journal is one stark exception and has given me well over its 25 dollars in value. 

With five years of experience journaling and a lifetime of experience to go, I want to share some of the ways journaling has benefited me and how it could potentially benefit you. 

Firstly, journaling has created a place for me to reflect. While journaling, you are not just recounting your day or week, but you are reflecting on how you feel about those events. Often, we can become so busy that time just flies by and you don't have time to stop and think about what was happening. A journal provides a place to stop, write, vent, question and remember yourself in a particular time in your life. Journals are not just beneficial in real-time as it provides an outlet for understanding, but they also create a moment in time for your future self to look back on. 

Healthy doses of sadness, anxiety, depression, stress or any other emotion are inevitable. Journals can provide a place to process these emotions. Especially in times of frustration, writing about your feelings helps you process why they are occurring and find the best course of action to solve them. Moreover, writing down and understanding complex emotions will allow you to resolve your rationale behind those emotions and sometimes (most of the time) you may even discover that you are overreacting. Journaling overall helps ground emotions to gain a better understanding of your life. 

One of the most rewarding parts about journaling is when you have been doing it for a long enough time, you start to see events in your life eventually come full circle. Essentially, you begin to see how one choice or action (good or bad) has led to a culmination of events bringing you to where you are now. Journaling truly helps you understand your mistakes and be proud of your accomplishments. 

Journals are also great because they can serve as an autobiography of sorts. Perhaps this is an idealistic vision, but I have always believed that one day, my journals that documented my life will be passed down to my children or grandchildren to read. Journals create a legacy for memory and will hopefully teach family lessons about their years to come. 

I am not the biggest fan of New Year’s resolutions. I find most people set goals and their commitment dwindles in the months, weeks or even days following January 1st. Despite this, typically around New Year’s, I set goals for how I wish to begin my year. I also have done this during birthdays or big milestones to set myself up for the future. There is something extremely beneficial about writing down your goals; it makes them more permanent and forces you to see them to fruition. Journals have not only become a place to recount my past but create a vision for the future. 

If I have any advice for you, if you have even the slightest interest in beginning to journal, it is to just start! Journaling is a no-pressure activity; there are no rules, deadlines, word counts. It is whatever you want it to be. Once you engage with yourself upon reflection, you will truly reap the benefits and won’t be able to imagine life without it. 

Wilfrid Laurier '22

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