26 Years in 29 Books

Twenty-six years ago, for my seventh birthday my favorite aunt gifted me my first diary, compete with combination lock. It was pink, had a bear on it, and each page was broken in to two entries. I wrote horrible things about my mom and sister, lamented elementary atrocities, and sometimes included some very terrible sketches of faces crying. While obviously quite melodramatic, even at such a young age I found a great deal of catharsis in writing down my feelings. And so it stuck. 

Over the years, I have been made fun of for writing in a journal, in jest and out of spite. But if people knew how much in therapy these books have saved me over the years, they might be a little quieter. Writing has gotten me through awkward teenage years, insecurities, my parents' troubles, my dad's suicide, issues with siblings, problems with money, job concerns, homesickness, troubled relationships, moments of depressing and anxiety, difficulties conceiving- I could go on and on. My life could be far, far worse, but there have been some sizable bumps in the road. Reflecting through journal writing has helped me organize my thoughts and create plans to move forward (and usually at least three additional contingency ones).

People often ask me if I go back and read them- I don't. For me, keeping a journal is about the immediate expression and the release of emotions, rather than the ability to review the past. The few times I have looked back (minus the first one, it's hilarious, but I was so young) I am absolutely horrified. The only advantage is seeing that most of life's worries are fleeting; something that seemed like the END OF THE WORLD was often resolved six months or a year later. The older I get the more I remember this, but I wish I could have told myself this from the ages of about ten to thirty-one. 

My habits have varied greatly. There are stretches when I am younger that go for weeks and weeks of no writing, while there have been times where I have had to write twice a day. I mostly write about the negatives in life, and I often write lists as opposed to lengthy paragraphs. Currently I try to write for at least five minutes every night, just to stay grounded and reflect on where I'm at on a day-to-day basis (for those who are trying to develop this habit, this is my biggest piece of advice- just set aside a reasonable amount of time for your life every day or two and stick to it for a month).

I joke that I want to be buried with my journals when I die, but I'm guessing by the time I croak I'll have like 90 books and I don't think they'll be room in my coffin (what am I saying? I want to be cremated and have my ashes illegally thrown off Half Dome). I am lucky enough to trust my husband to not read them, so if I go first he will just have to figure out how to dispose of them. I definitely don't want them published (as I will clearly be famous enough for people to care to read them), nor do I want them treated like a family heirloom. I probably should have a real plan at some point. 

So, yes, this is my defense of journaling but also my not-so-humble pat on my own back about sticking to a hobby for so long. I'll end this with a quote someone forwarded to me a long time ago about journaling that I couldn't agree with more:

"[Journaling] is like whispering to one's self and listening at the same time"- Mina Murray (Dracula)


  1. Girl you are awesome. I've also kept a journal since I was young. 6th grade to be exact. But I have like a billion b/c I went through an art journaling phase which meant I was using up a journal in like 3 months time. Now a days I just write and use markers and stickers in my notebooks. But I still journal b/c it helps with my anxiety and depression, it is a good way to process my thoughts, and it's like having an extra friend.

    Do you use a specfic notebook for every journal? I don't I change up which ones I use. Though I wish I used the same one all the time. Do you use special pens? Do you put stuff in your notebook? Like concert tickets, or moviestubs? What kind of journal is it? Just writing or a mish mash of stuff? Sorry I asked so many questions I just love seeing other journalers.

  2. Thanks for sharing your journalling experience, Christine. I too was given my first journal when I was 7 or 8 but it wasn't until I was 12/13 that I started journalling regularly/everyday. I haven't looked back at my journals from high school (omg I cringe just thinking of what some of it was about...that or just trivial stress about schoolwork xD) but every so often if I'm busy reorganising or tidying up I'd read a few entries from previous journals. Or even thoughts from last month. I do have one of those one-sentence-a-day/5 year journals so it's really interesting to see what I was up to on any particular day one year ago :)

    I can't even begin to imagine how many journals I've gone through though...

  3. That is soooooo awesome! I am (insanely?) jealous of you and your journals! I had a few diaries as a young girl and at some point threw them out!! Why? I wish I had them now...they would likely be of the hilarious form. I have the desire to journal every day and even have blank journals at home that I could put into use right away, but for some reason I just can't seem to "pull the trigger" and make it happen. I blame lack of time the most....I do have the 5 year Q&A book, which helps to make it quick and jot down "something"...though there are days that simply aren't applicable so I skip them. I've been pretty good at writing in that and I am in year 2. Also, my husband would totally try to read them...so there's that. :)

  4. Wow, this is so great! Thank you for sharing. I've been trying to get into a journaling habit but it can be hard -- like you said, you have to just set some time for it and make it a consistent part of your routine. I do think you're right though, the good thing about getting your thoughts out can remind you later than most things are fleeting and will work themselves out over time.