I recently flipped through the journals I kept in high school and discovered some interesting things about myself and journaling in general. Not only was it hilarious to see my teen angst in writing, it was also informative. It gave me insight into how my mind worked back then, and helped me discover patterns that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.
For these reasons, among others, I believe journaling is a beneficial exercise, particularly when done on a regular basis. On that note, here’s my working list of why I think everyone should journal.
When I started journaling at about the age of 10, I wrote sporadically. I typically wrote when I felt some grave injustice had been done to me, like being told to clean the cat’s litter box or to wash the dishes. I did this type of spotty journaling throughout the years that followed, and it always felt like there were gaps in my records.
Whenever I looked back through my journals though, I was delighted to find long forgotten memories while simultaneously saddened that I hadn’t recorded more of them. Journaling is a more effective way of keeping track of memories than photographs because it tells you so much more. It gives you a snapshot into your mind and feelings that you may have otherwise forgotten. It’s like a little window into your former self, providing a view of your life from your perspective back then.
Journaling is a reflective activity that forces you to look back on your choices and analyze them. This can help you learn from your mistakes and see just how much you’ve changed over the years, for better or worse.
I’ve often been surprised to look back and see the destructive thought patterns I followed. I was completely oblivious at the time, but now I see exactly where many mistakes and hardships stemmed from. It’s hard to grow if you don’t see a need to do so, and journaling can help with that.
Whether writing is what puts food in your cat’s bowl or it’s only put to use for text messages and social media posts, building your writing skills is always beneficial. And journaling is a great way to do that. It enables you to express yourself more clearly, as well as organize your thoughts and feelings properly before sending them out into the world.
You may just think I’m a grammar snob (which I definitely am), but being able to write coherently can save you a lot of grief and dead-end arguments. Don’t believe me? Just check out any hotly debated social media post or YouTube video and check out the comments. The amount of airhead arguments there will be endless. Not to mention the countless misspellings and grave punctuation errors that can completely derail the person’s argument as well as their credibility. No one wants to sound stupid to the general public, so work on your writing skills before posting all over the internet!
Journaling on a regular basis can also help build your creativity. Despite many people’s belief that creativity is something everyone is granted in different degrees at birth, it’s actually a skill you can build and hone. If you journal every day, it will become easier to come up with more ideas, as well as unique solutions to any problems you may have.
Creative thinking is no easy task, but if you work on it every single day, you’ll see your mind open up. You’ll be able to process more concepts and understand a number of things much better. This is a valuable skill for anyone to have, not just writers.
It’s pretty clear that journaling can teach you a lot about yourself, as well as offer numerous benefits. However, I think my favorite benefit is being able to look back and relive old memories that have been long forgotten. When I was fourteen, I journaled that I was going to be a writer with a big dog and a huge personal library. I also vehemently insisted that no man would ever get in the way of that. Though all I have is my little tabby cat and a stack of books piled high in my studio apartment, it’s nice to know that I’m still on track with my childhood dreams in terms of my writing and my love life. Without journaling, I would’ve never gotten that bit of encouragement from my teenage self!