I have been journaling for the past 5 years. It’s been a WILD journey. I wasn’t consistent at first, but I grew to love it, made it a New Year’s Resolution to do it everyday, and now it’s a part of my everyday life. There’s definitely a lot that I have learned from journaling and I have a ton of posts where I mention how much it has added to my life. Despite how many What I’ve Learned posts I have written, I haven’t written about journaling yet.
We need space to process
It’s so easy to go throughout the world never settling down enough to ask yourself the big questions. Who are you? What do you want out of life? What do you believe? Who are the most important people to you? What you think about nature vs nurture? What are your political views and where did you learn those ideas? What are your values?
Having a dedicated space to processing your answers to these questions over time is amazing. You may not think you need it, but sometimes, you don’t know what you believe, heck, you don’t know what you don’t know until you are forced to ask yourself those questions. A journal is a space to write your thoughts, your experiences, to look over your life with a mindful approach. What is life like now? What do you want to change? What is your ideal future? And how do you get there? Asking the right questions in a reflective space can lead to answers you didn’t know you had.
Journaling is a wonderful space to process emotions. I can remember feeling angry and writing a whole rant about it in my journal. There are days where I just had a simple, beautiful day. Those journal entries helped me pinpoint what emotions I had and where they originated. You have a place where you can be open and honest about where you are in the present moment when you journal.
Your views will 100% change over time
You won’t always think the same way you think now. And that’s a good thing. It means you are changing, growing, and developing. Which we all should want. When you first look at a topic, you form an opinion. When you gain insight and knowledge into that topic, when you learn more, your opinion changes.
We need to normalize this in our society. It’s okay to change your mind once you have more information. For politics, for religion, for any topic where there are numerous views and tons of things, we have to learn to take in new information and adjust our views without expecting backlash or judging ourselves from having a different lens.
The cool thing about journaling is that you can see where your views change over time and point out where and when it happened and why it was such a shift. Documenting your journey includes documenting all the beliefs you have and how they develop – documenting your growth as a human.
Remembering the simple moments is what counts
You know when you go throughout a day, you get to the end, and then reflect. You end up remembering something small that happened. And you never would have remembered it if you hadn’t stopped to pause and reflect. Well, think of that and multiply that by 100%.
Journaling is essentially having all those small moments and documenting them over time – so where you can go back and remember what your high school self was listening to when she had that phase for Pierce the Veil and post-hardcore music. (that phase rocked!) It’s the place where you think back to the stranger who smiled at you on the train on a random Tuesday. Or it’s the wild time where a friend just grabbed you and told you to run – and you felt no judgement at all.
You deserve to remember the small moments. Because ultimately that’s what your life is made up of. Sometimes your days are totally mundane and that’s okay. But journaling helps you appreciate the tiny things that may be boring to someone else but it’s where you find meaning.
Some dreams never die
If you never track your journey, how are you supposed to categorize your successes? Who will be able to tell you “you made it” if you never tell yourself what the heck you’re supposed to make? All I’m saying is write down your dreams. You don’t need to tell your best friend. You don’t need to post it on Facebook. (Please don’t post it on Facebook. Why do you still have Facebook? Get off of Facebook.) You don’t even need to tell your significant other. Just write down your dream.
Maybe set a date for a timeline. Or set today’s date so you know when your journey began. Either way, you can’t celebrate something you never write down.
Even so, some dreams never die.
Maybe you once wrote about being a freelance writer and you’re close to your first paycheck.
Maybe your dream was to graduate with your Master’s and you’re halfway there.
Maybe you just wanted to spend 30 days getting up early so you could see the sunrise.
Whatever your dreams are, if you keep writing them down, if they land on your paper time and time again, if they are scrawled across your journal, that’s a dream you’ve got to make happen. It hasn’t died. You don’t want it any less. You may have stopped working for it, but it’s still a dream you desire. Some dreams never die and that’s a sign that you need to make it happen.
For me, that dream was blogging. In 2015, I wrote about wanting to start a blog in the summer and then took until my first winter break of my first year of college to make the dream happen. My dream finally came alive!
The world is so darn critical
If you look back on your education journey, what do you see? Did your professor encourage you to seek out materials due to curiosity, to follow trains of thought that were not your own, to find reason in a viewpoint not so usually taken?
Maybe some did. But most probably taught you to think critically. Critical thinking is a valuable thing. We shouldn’t take everything we see at face value. With social media spreading news separately from reputable news organizations, it’s easy to see why our culture is so skeptical. But honestly, sometimes it’s just sad.
We’re always looking for the other shoe to drop. We can’t listen without a lens of “is this true? This person could be lying. Things aren’t adding up.” Our judgements inform our opinions, instead of listening and learning to better understand the world and shape our opinions. I would challenge you to step outside of your beliefs and views and step into someone else’s.
The journey of becoming is a lifelong process
This point says it all. The journey of becoming is a lifelong process. I’m not who I was 5 years ago. I’m not my 15 year old self, who now seems so young and so much less knowledgeable than I am now. I have grown and my life has shifted SO MUCH. I mean, currently I’m living through a global pandemic as a college student and I feel more certain of my beliefs and values. However, some things don’t change. I’m still as scared of the future as ever. I still listen to pop punk and I adore Paramore like my 15 year old self.
I am so excited for what the next 5 years of journaling will look like for me. I might have to blog for 5 years and share that with you all, friends!
I hope you begin to journal and grow into a more mindful, introspective human. The world needs more of those.
P.S. The way I end my blog posts is directly from my journals. The “Signing off” came from my journals and it’s wild to think that something I did for years has now become a blog thing.
Do you journal? If you do, tell me something you’ve learned from journaling down below!
2 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned From Journaling”
Excellent post, Gigi! I totally agree that journaling is such a valuable way to process your life and emotions. Plus it’s amazing to look back and see how far you’ve come! It’s so neat that you’ve been journaling for five years!
Thank you so much!! I’ve definitely become more consistent over time!!