A month before my 9th birthday, I received my first journal as a Christmas present from my aunt. I didn’t particularly like the cover (naked baby cherubs), but it started 20 years of journaling for me. At the time I was really into using mechanical pencils because it’s what my dad used. My journals generally last at least 2 years. For a long streak of years, a different aunt would buy me a new journal as a birthday gift.
As I felt myself shifting and growing throughout the years, I would start rushing to finish the last pages so I could begin a fresh journal. During high school and college, I journaled the most prolifically. During this period I was particularly committed to using gel pens and wouldn’t journal if I didn’t have one with which to write. I have to admit, looking back, those gel pens were often so sparkly and metallic it is pretty hard to read my entries!
When I realized that Jan 1, 2016 would mark 20 years of journaling, I was pretty amazed. It’s hard to believe I’ve been chronicling my life, thoughts, emotions, joys, and pains for 20 years. It’s been a cathartic way to dump out the hurts and pains of life, a permanent record. A way to look back and even when I doubted my memory (or others did), to be able to look back and say, “That really happened.”
It’s also been a time to highlight special events in my life and has often turned out to be my only record of the people I’ve met over the years. When you’re in the midst of life, it’s hard to imagine ever forgetting these people, but I’ve been amazed how fast some names have slipped out of my long term memory. When I was in my senior year of high school, I was able to secure an internship at the juvenile court as a file clerk (back when I planned to become a lawyer). This was because of a woman named Margaret, whom I met through a different avenue. Although I’ve forgotten her name at times, I haven’t forgotten how she advocated for me and went out of her way for a 17 year old girl.
I journal much more infrequently now. The reason is threefold. First, I have so much so say that sometimes I just give up and don’t write anything at all. Second, I married my best friend and so I usually tell him stuff instead of journaling it. Third, sometimes I’m just too tired and overwhelmed to put anything to paper. I did do a pretty good job journaling both my pregnancies, but I did it on the computer because I just couldn’t keep up on paper.
I’m almost done with the journal I’m working through now. The timing is appropriate. This year has been one of enormous change for me and my husband. I’ll be shopping for a new journal soon. I’m looking for something smaller than I usually do, so I won’t feel obligated to fill a large page. Just something smaller, maybe 4”x6”, to jot down a few sentences each day about what is going on. This new season deserves a new journal.