I have been journaling since I was 7 years old. My first ever journal entry, dated January 3, 2004, goes,
"Dear Diary, Today Sarah brought her boots with her. Mrs. Bloom asked if she has cowgirl boots when we were reading a book called Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett."
As I've learned and grown, I've been fascinated to read my emergence into self-awareness through how I process and channel my thoughts and emotions. I become my highest self when I use my journal as a tool to reflect on experiences and relationships, as a ritual to still my mind and receive inner truths, and as an outlet to explore and build on new ideas and intentions.
Knowing "the why" has helped me be consistent with this healing practice.
1. Medicine for my soul
Journaling is a creative outlet that has saved my life and preserved my sanity many times. It's there for me no matter how alone I feel. In fact, putting pen to paper and articulating intense emotions and profound realizations has accelerated my growth and advanced me further than times in my life when I didn't journal. Mental health means allowing ourselves to feel the full range of emotions that make us messy humans.
"You are the medicine and this life is your ritual."
2. Form of meditation
Writing slows down the overthinking mind. It's helped me live in the present, hone my intuition, and know myself by turning my mind inside out. I've literally conducted cost-benefit analyses in my journal when I've felt conflicted in order to make important decisions. This is a tool for us to break out of unconscious thought patterns and trust our guts.
Written expression is an investment in myself. The paper has been there for me when I had nobody else but myself. You're with yourself every second of the day, so why not be your own best friend?
Journaling is an outlet for the range of human experience, from despair to bliss. Writing in my journal has never let me down. Poetry, storytelling, lists, drawings, charts, collages, letters, gratitude, affirmations, and future self journaling have all added to the self-love practice.
4. Coping/bouncing back
If there's one thing I've learned from journaling, it's that as long as you avoid your issues, your shadow self will continue to resurface, reflected in patterns of experiences in your life, until you directly face this baggage and free yourself.
Journaling has helped me relieve anxiety and stress, process feelings of overwhelm, release attachment and expectations, and surrender to the stream of consciousness pouring out of my head.
It's a tool for resilience and emotional regulation. It helps people process cognitive dissonance, climb out of rock-bottom emotions like hopelessness and apathy, and transmute pain into beauty.
It's just you and the blank page in front of you.
5. Tell my story
The first 6 years of my life were pretty easy. Then, in the span of a few months, I moved to a new county, switched schools, my first cat died, and my brother was born. Suddenly, my life looked very different. I've been analyzing my childhood for years and now better understand why and how I internalized bullying and harassment. I understand where I hold it in my body—a tight chest, slouched shoulders, a clenched jaw—and that makes it easier to rewrite the story.
A source of both insight and hindsight, hardship has given me an opportunity to determine my fate through my response. I glimpse who I am through my experiences, distilled in a moment in time through my writing. I write to remember.
6. Manifestation magic
If I'm thinking about it, the small act of writing it into existence makes me more likely to achieve it. Journaling allows me to harness inner wisdom, integrate lessons, build on ideas, and remember that the journey is the destination. It's also a source of brilliance and inspiration for later.
7. Connect through the pen
I write to make myself known, to help others feel less alone, to help others find their voice, and to give back to the world for giving me the gift of language and the freedom to use it.
8. Ideas outlive people
Sharing your writing on social media is like uploading thoughts into collective consciousness. They're now accessible to a massive sea of minds. There, they can be downloaded, decoded, assimilated, and accommodated with existing mental representations.
Your ideas outlive you only if you set them free into the world. Despite this, I only share if I believe it's something of quality and substance that can help others. Artists are part of a cultural evolution that's hundreds of thousands of years in the making, and I trust in the wisdom of my ancestors.
9. Generativity and creativity
There are endless possibilities for conveying a thought or idea. Language is an emergent system like biology; its complexity continually expands. It is the portal to knowing truth. Language evolves and builds on itself naturally, expanding our capacity for abstract thought and what is knowable.
10. Satisfaction of precision
I write for the satisfaction of internalizing knowledge, capturing a feeling, or articulating an idea accurately and concisely in a way that makes new connections for myself and others. It helps me show up as a better version of myself. I pride myself on clear, accurate, organized language and will not share something with the world until I am satisfied with how it is presented. Great art comes out of searching for new ways to distill the uncontainable experience of being alive.
11. Soul truth
By writing, I embody fluidity, detach from ideologies and words, care more about meanings, evolve my perspective continually, and release expectations and perfectionism. Writing for 16 years has helped me drop into my body, especially my heart, lungs, and gut, and stop living in my head so much.
Writing gave me a voice very early on in my life and changed my life trajectory. It's been an exercise in speaking my truth that has rippled out to my everyday interactions and allowed me to connect in ways I never saw coming. I think my childhood self would be proud.