A Defense of Journaling Well Into Adulthood
“Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” — Joan Didion
Ever since I was a child, I kept a journal. While I’ve already mourned the loss of one of my earliest journals (probably swept away in the chaos of moving to a new city once again), I remember that it was filled with all kinds of childhood gems.
Whether it was lyrics to songs I liked, short stories, or records of the latest 4th grade drama, it all served as proof of who I was during those times. I was trying to preserve those moments of my life for some future version of myself.
But more than keeping a file of past moments, journaling is simply a way to express yourself while still keeping that energy private. This creates a sort of middle realm where you can safely store those thoughts away, outside of yourself, and inside something else, at once.
That description may have made journaling seem a little fantastical. But keeping a journal is not a childish activity. Most people only think journaling is frivolous because the general public thinks of diaries, which makes them think of silly teenage girls.
Perhaps the association between writing down your feelings and femininity is what keeps more people from giving this activity a try. But that seems like a conversation for another day…
Instead, here me out on why I’m so enamored with journaling.
Writing Your Own Story
Journaling functions as a way to write your life out like a story. Cherished moments, characters, and eras of your life are ones that belong solely to you. And when you open up an old journal to revisit your past, you are instantly thrown into a sort of time travel.
This narrative that you weaved for yourself is just as enthralling as a published novel.
I must say, though, that reading my journals from high school are a little depressing since all I used them for was venting out my frustrations and self-loathing. 10/10 would not recommend! But it’s still interesting to see just how much I’ve grown over a short amount of time.
With journaling being like writing your life story, there comes the inherent romance of it all. I don’t necessarily mean romanticizing your life intentionally, but rather the act of seeing a piece of yourself when you were most vulnerable — most true. To see this exposed version of yourself in its rawest form is extremely romantic. That’s like love, isn’t it? In some kind of intense, poetic way.
Never Too Old To Start
Despite what popular media may tell us, the best part of our lives do not stop around our mid-twenties. In fact, as someone in her early twenties now, I can tell you that I feel like I’ve barely started on my true life’s journey! And to navigate all of this, I definitely need an outlet to express everything that’s bottled up inside of me without judgement.
I need my journal.
No matter what age you are, your story hasn’t ended. It deserves to be written down and made tangible because it’s important and wonderful.
Yes, there will be hard times and you’ll want to write about them to get that weight off your chest. But there are also so many beautiful moments, ones that make the pen fly across the page and your handwriting unintelligible because you’re so happy.
So, maybe I’ve convinced you to start journaling. Maybe I haven’t. But if you do try it and feel a little embarrassed about what you’ve written, don’t worry — no one’s meant to see it anyway.