Why I Journal

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Pictured above is a small excerpt from one of my journals. It’s dated as you can see, all the way back in March 2014. It was my freshmen year at Villanova University. Man what a time. 

My roommate, whom is now one of my best friends, Griffin Crafts, introduced me to these little notebooks that he used to journal himself. At first I wasn’t a believer, but then I gave it a shot off of his recommendations. Griffin and I definitely had our fair share of disagreements, but this is one thing I can’t thank him enough for. 

"Journaling became a key for me that opened up countless doors for my personal growth."

 

Providing An Outlet

I honestly wish I started journaling earlier in my life. In my younger years, I was very timid when it came to sharing my negative feelings of sadness and sorrow. I didn’t know how to communicate my feelings to others, and so I bottled up many of these emotions until they just exploded out. This never turned out well, yet I would just rinse and repeat the process. 

Thankfully, I’ve become more aware of my emotions and now express them appropriately. Journaling was a huge step in this process because it provided me an outlet. It became a medium where I could write to my heart's content because there was NO FEAR OF JUDGEMENT. This journal was my safe space; my outlet for both positive and negative emotions.

Journaling is a way to express yourself. It’s a way to truly be transparent with yourself and document your raw thoughts and feelings. 

Journaling has become a bridge between my mind and my heart. 

 

Documenting Deeper Dimensions of My Journey

We all have a journey and we all have our memories from the past, but how many times have you forgotten something? It could be a brilliant idea you had or just a sequence of events throughout an amazing day you had. Come on, be honest. At least once right? Probably thousands of times (definitely me)! 

That’s the beauty of a journal. You don’t have to carry it 24/7 either. Anytime I had an idea, heard an amazing quote, or just felt like a beautiful moment was happening, I took a mental note of it or documented it in my Notes App. Then at the end of the day, I would write the experience in my journal. 

 The cover page of my WWOOFing trip with Griffin Crafts (Spring 2014)

The cover page of my WWOOFing trip with Griffin Crafts (Spring 2014)

These moments of my journey. These memories. Not only do I remember them, but now I can read about them and truly see what was going through my mind at that moment in time. For example, my freshmen and senior year of college, I went on a WWOOFing trip (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for my Spring break. Freshmen year I went with Griffin Crafts and senior year I went with another best friend of mine, Scott Leighow. I made it an absolute priority to spend time every night before bed to write everything about that day! After a long day of hard manual labor on the farms, the only thought I had was to pass out, but thankfully I found the strength to write in my notebook. 

How I felt that day. What work I did. What stories were told by the community members. The struggles and frustrations I felt alongside the glories and victories all were remembered. So many details and intricacies of what we experience in our lives gets lost as time passes. With journaling, you can engrave your experience with a pen and paper, and have these memories last for an entire lifetime. Reading back through my writing is like a time machine. I’m able to step into my own shoes in the past, and experience that moment in full clarity again.

 

Holding Myself Accountable

Back in high school, I remember taking a personality test and ended with a result of ENFP, “The Campaigner.” Here’s a link if you want to read what that means and take the test for yourself! 

Like most people, some aspects of these tests resonate really well, but other qualities don’t. The one quality that I hated was the fact that campaigners are known to have ideas and projects, but struggle to make them ever happen. I thought that was ludicrous and I resented that one statement. As time went on, I found myself never following through on my ideas and was reminded of my “campaigner” nature. It all became a self-fulfilling prophecy; an unhealthy and negative one at that. 

Through journaling, I was finally able to escape this rut and slowly start to change my mindset. I would be able to write down my struggles, my ideas, and set specific deadlines. The first thing I did once I woke up, was open my notebook and read through what I previously wrote, everyday for months! I wanted to commit to what I wrote. I wanted to follow my word and everyday, I tried to work towards whatever goal I wrote. 

 My 2015 resolution (yes, I quoted myself haha) and a quote I found on a white board in Corr Hall at Villanova University

My 2015 resolution (yes, I quoted myself haha) and a quote I found on a white board in Corr Hall at Villanova University

 Setting a deadline to launch my podcast (I followed through with it!)

Setting a deadline to launch my podcast (I followed through with it!)

If you’ve ever struggled with accountability, I can personally testify that journaling and writing down my goals kept me in line. You won’t always have someone to hold you accountable for your actions. Eventually, you will need to learn how to keep yourself accountable; whether that be through journaling, making a schedule, or what have you, is completely up to you. Find what fits you best! 

 

Reflection

The last point I want to make is a topic very near and dear to my heart. I’ve come a long way in regards to reflection; from not giving myself a second to process my emotions to now, setting aside at least 15 minutes a day to meditate, breathe, or write for the sole purpose of reflection. I truly worry about those who don’t set aside time for reflection. It could be as long as an hour to as short as two minutes; the amount of time isn’t the purpose, it’s the intention behind that time that truly matters.

There are more distractions now more than ever: the TV, our phones, sports, games, and so many others. I fall victim to the different sources that are just trying to hold our attention for as long as possible just like everyone else. Which is why, I set aside a specific amount of time for myself. We experience so much in a day. Even the most uneventful day is filled with so many different emotions and moments that will inevitably be lost. Why not choose to take advantage of every moment and try to grow from them? 

Journaling has provided a way for me to truly reflect on my past, my present and my future. It’s hard to think, process, and grow throughout every experience while we are living them. Give your mind a break by documenting. Once your thoughts are written down, you can then go in, analyze, process, and develop yourself for the future. 

Be intentional with your time, and be comfortable with yourself. Reflect.

 

These are just a few of the reasons why I journal. I don’t believe journaling is for everyone, but I do believe wholeheartedly that we all need a method to be with ourselves; our true, raw, genuine selves. 

If you want to start journaling, here is what I use. They are the perfect compact and portable vessels for your personal journey. 

 
 

I hope you enjoyed this read and I would love to hear your thoughts on journaling and your methods of self development and reflection in the comments below! 

Have a wonderful day.

 
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Stay Safe, Stay You =]

John Lee

 

John LeeComment