I've kept a journal since I was in middle school. Thankfully I don't have the ones I wrote then (I fear to know where my mind was then) but I do love reading the journals I've written in college and beyond, reading reflections from my past.
We live in a fast paced culture that leaves almost no time for reflection. We rarely pause (unless we're talking a DVR snack break).
So much happens in the world, in our communities, and in our daily lives, and yet before we know it there is a new day and we've barely been able to process the one before.
Reflection, however, is vital for growth. Learning comes from reflection.
And that includes learning about yourself and what you want to do with your life during and after college. So below are the top 5 reasons why starting a journal and committing to writing in it at least once per week can improve your life.
1. It's easy to stereotype journaling as "dear diary, the cute boy looked at me today..." but it can be so much more. Journaling helps you reflect on the current situations in your life and see them more clearly. It gives you a chance to think and, often, come up with solutions to your own problems.
2. While journals can be great for venting, I've actually found it's best to keep them as positive as possible. Who wants to remember or dwell on the bad things? Writing down what was great about your day or what you are hopeful about for the future will improve your mood.
3. A journal is a great place to start mulling over your goals and what you want out of life. Sometimes you may talk about your day, but if you're anything like me, you'll want to fill your journal with rambling thoughts, hopes, and questions about the future. A journal is a great place to get to know yourself. And knowing yourself is key to succeeding in college and in your career.
One of my rambling journal entries from 8/12/07: I don't know what I want to do with my life. I feel so lost. Growing up is happening so fast - I can't believe I start my junior year at Stetson in a few weeks. I'm excited for my major but I still don't know what I want to do. All I know is I want a job that is fun and flexible and that inspires and encourages people. Real specific, right? Ah! I would love to write a book. How wonderful that would be!? I've always wanted to write a non-fiction book. But what am I good at? What should my career actually be? I still don't know exactly and I feel like I'm running out of time. [isn't it funny that 'author' as a career popped up...my journal was vital in my journey to figure out my career].
12/18/08: What will my job be in only...5 MONTHS?!?! Ahhh go away real world!!!! [lol]
4. A picture's worth a thousand words, but sometimes a few words paint a great picture. Sometimes if I don't have a lot of time I'll just jot down a few random things about the day that I know I'll love to look back on. Journals are a fun and insightful read once a year - as good, if not better, than a photo album (or a Facebook timeline).
Bullets from a journal entry of random thoughts on 11/2/07: *Poetry is so incredible when read by its writer.*Revelation: I'm always more tired the 2nd morning after I've had little sleep. *I miss 7th grade sleepovers.*Starbucks isn't that exciting to me anymore. *I love my comparative politics class. *Eating 2 nutrition bars and a frosty is not a proper dinner. *I like fake flowers.
5. Buying a journal you love is really fun. From splurging on a super-flowery blue Vera Bradlely notebook to buying a small turquoise one for $2.97 that says in silver "She's a dreamer, a doer, a thinker. She sees possibility everywhere" - I've always been drawn to journals that make me feel something, that shine like a precious treasure waiting to hold my life. Find something that inspires you when you open it each day or week. I was drawn to the first significant college journal I ever bought because of what was written in white cursive on the dark navy cover:
just when the
world was over,