August 28, 2002
This is it!
I began journaling 10 years ago today. I have some notebooks that date back further, but the night before I left for college was really when I began journaling in earnest. I decided that this was a thing I was going to do, and I could write whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted, but I had to keep going.
I wish the first words were something more insightful than “this is it,” and I wish I could think of more to do now than simply repeat those words. I started journaling probably because I liked the idea of it, and then I found myself feeling a bunch of feelings and needing a place to express them, and at some point many years later, I started thinking of journaling as art, but more than anything, it remains the thing I do to figure things out for myself.
I do not journal out of any obligation or need to document my life. Journaling is like coffee–sure, I could live without it, but why would I want to?
There was a time when I first started blogging where I nearly gave up journaling. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I was writing so much for my blog that my journal sat abandoned in a drawer. I wrote a post about it, hoping that I would find a reason to keep journaling. I did, though I can’t name it precisely. There is no formal relationship between my journal and my blog. But there are things I don’t want to write about in public, things I prefer to work out in private first, and things that I have to repeat to myself so many times that any reader of a blog would be like, “I get it already!”
Newsweek: You said you have more than 30 years recorded in your diary, is that why you never run out of material?
An interesting side effect of journaling is that you realize just how much you have to say. Not because there is a record of it, but because you have this habit of sitting and reflecting on things. Your experience of the world is different when you don’t just live it, but also write about it. There is some fair criticism of social media that instead of experiencing things, we simply document them, but for me, writing is as much a part of living as experiencing.
Perhaps the best side effect is that when you write about yourself, you’re forced to deal with your feelings. Any emotional intelligence I have is a credit to journaling. Whatever is going on and however unsettled it all feels, I can sit and write and know that it will all be okay.
Here’s to another 10 years! Or 70.