Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

September 22: The Diverse Ways I’ve Kept a Diary for Over Two Decades

If you could sum me up in one word, it would unequivocally be a writer


I was given a pen, a head full of stories and the need to put them to paper in none other than a diary, just in time for National Diary Day on Sept. 22. To avoid this article sounding too much like a past one, I’ll also provide an insight as I reflect on what each type of diary-ing taught me.


The Early Days

Although I don’t remember the exact age I got this Christmas gift, I was definitely young when I was blessed with the Mattel With My Password voice-activated diary. What I do remember, however, was hunkering down without a soul in sight as I carefully chose and set my password for this receptacle of my innermost elementary school secrets. It was there that I practiced my signatures for when I became famous, as well as my name morphed with my crush-of-the-month. The click of the lock was so satisfying to little-me; the closest I get to that sensation now is my keys typing a mile-a-minute on my keyboard.


Things I Learned, Looking Back (TILLB)

  • I fell in love with how easy I could turn my swirling head of thoughts into coherent writing.
  • I picked up a habit that would help me develop into the person I am today, which makes me emotional now.
  • I probably annoyed people around me less because I found an outlet for all my blabbering.
  • I gave everyone in my life a built-in gift idea because I tore through diaries like they were going out of style.


The Later Part of the Early Years

The next phase in my diary days was wide-ruled spiral notebooks. These were usually adorned with an adhesive atrocity (aka a sticker) of a boy-band. I loved that the wide spacing of the lines allowed me to write in big, bumbling bubble letters that looked like a pregnant version of the Comic Sans font. I would also get lost in my thoughts and doodle through the margins. And seeing as I was much more mature than my early elementary school self in my mid-elementary school days, I only wrote my crush-of-the-month’s initials instead of our full names. 


I would sprawl out on my bed on my stomach, one cheek resting on the comforter as I scribbled away. The pen I used, you may ask? Well, it was only the most obnoxious neon glitter gel pen you can imagine. I will also briefly put my sister on blast here because she helped me establish a strong foundation for journaling in cursive.

“Well Hannah, isn’t journaling in cursive hard?”


Good question. 


It’s not harder than dealing with the middle school embarrassment of having your little sister read your diary, strut to the photo-copier, make several copies of your innermost thoughts for the fellow bus-goers and then have a public reciting on our journey home. Yes, I have recovered emotionally. And no, I definitely haven’t drafted several versions of memoir chapters about how that event changed me forever (LOL, love you Zoe).



  • I learned to perfect my cursive so Zoe couldn’t read my diary anymore.
  • I learned that while journaling let me lay out all my thoughts, I should hide the diary away after.
  • I learned that if I wanted my penmanship to get better, I should switch from wide-ruled to college-ruled notebooks.
  • I learned that I still found joy in having a way to recount my days so they serve like a gel-penned time capsuleI have kept most of them for this purpose.


The Middle Years

From there, I became much more inconspicuous about where and when I journaled. I also found myself enamored with the aesthetics of small, black-bound faux leather journals. My favorite to date is my small poetry one that just reads ‘little black book’ in silver embossing.


Only half-serious about the emotional scarring, I made my digital diary on Tumblr with the painfully angsty username MyLifeasaMisfit. I was pretty diligent there, but this was the time of high school swim seasons, so I fell off the writing wagon for a bit. I really only wrote about swimming or high school boys. 


High school also brought out my love for angsty poetry written in my iPhone notes, which is still where I prefer to jot down those little nuggets of prose.



  • I learned that journaling became what I did to relieve stress, which I’ve kept up with to date.
  • I learned that I’m really, really glad phones have a notepad app.
  • I learned that Tumblr had a great community for people like me.


The Now Years

In a way, Her Campus feels like a very public diary… except the thoughts I share are with my permission (ahem, Zoe). My four years in Her Campus have combined everything I love about keeping a diary. I have total freedom. I have a supportive community of people who love who I am and what I write. I have a time capsule of my thoughts, and I can see a development of myself from the beginning to now. And truthfully, it might be my favorite type of diary to date.




  • I learned that I’m extremely grateful to Her Campus for the opportunity to be myself.
  • I learned that I’m nowhere near done with my writer’s life. If anything, this feels like the beginning. 


Much like my earlier article, this day, Sept. 22, is somewhat symbolic of what I hope every day is like, forever. In taking the time to read this, I’ve granted you all the password to my Mattel With My Password diary: thank you.


BRB, off to doodle my new crush’s name in some spare notebook. 


My name is Hannah Hippensteel, and I like to say I'm a Chicago city-slicker, but I'm actually from the 'burbs. I'm currently a senior at Winona State with a major in mass communication-journalism and a minor in sociology. Catch me enjoying all Winona has to offer: the bluffs, the incomparable Bloedow's Bakery, and not to mention, Minnesota boys. With a goal of working at Teen Vogue, Seventeen or Glamour magazine, I'm soaking up every opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse and share my personal voice!
Similar Reads👯‍♀️