“July 27, 2016. Ikea today. Exhausted, 30 C+ weather today. Making my way through some poetry.”
“September 15, 2013. Reference: Important Things — beat up, old cars (preferably muscle), paint peeling, uncared for BUT REALLY actually loved and cared about. Crucial: spearmint gum packets on dashboard/cupholder.”
“April 4, 2012. It’s 1:28 AM and I’ve done nothing resembling productivity. Ugh.”
I have journaled for as long as I can remember. Right now, I have three different ongoing journals for reasons that don’t even make sense to me. They are all currently littering my desk as I write; spines cracked and open with pens tucked in the center.
In my closet, I have a huge box that contains all of my journals: tens of spiral notebooks, cheap sketchbooks, and Moleskins gifted to me on a whim.
Much like Joan Didion in her essay, “On Keeping a Notebook”, (one of my favourite essays by the writer), I wonder why I feel so compelled to record anything and everything.
Why do I do this? Why does this matter?
And to this perennial question, I have a list of answers that I seem to add onto every time I pose it to myself.
It’s the most valuable primary source for myself.
I can ravage through my box of mementos and flip past pages and pages of memories, drawings, and questionable poetry and put my current self squarely into my past (all of my entries are dated).
When I’m old I can ravage through the box(es) again, albeit a little more slowly, and relive memories of my first concert (read: Arctic Monkeys!) or my mental state during my first year of uni (read: poor, struggling, but optimistic).
It is absolute catharsis.
I owe so much to my pen and paper. Without my journals, I don’t really know how I’d be faring right now; because, it is with them that I let out all of my frustrations and confusions; It’s a healthy outlet for myself when I feel like I’m close to snapping. I’ve learned to whip out my journal and furiously scrabble my chicken scratch on the blank pages. After half an hour of writing, I feel so much lighter. And, after some time, I can look back on my troubles and laugh about them, learn about them, and realize that things can get better.
I get to see how much I’ve changed….and how much I’ve stayed the same.
The quote up there from 2012 is still so me it’s hilarious. I just randomly dug up a journal and found that entry from FOUR years ago (wowowow) and it’s still true today. My work habits just haven’t improved, haha.
And it’s nice to see this firsthand evidence of my (lack of) transformations. It compels me to keep going with journaling because when I’m 29, I wanna see how different, how similar I am with the 19 year old I am today.
PS. Journals are so nice!!!
If you ever find me on the TLC show “My Strange Addiction”, it’s probably because I’ve been buying notebooks and journals at a significantly faster rate than I use them, to the point that I miiiight need to start renting out large storage warehouses. It’s not my fault though!! Not when Muji sells packs of nice notebooks for so cheap!!
Do you keep a notebook? A diary? Do you scrapbook? All of the above?