Why I Keep a Journal

I started journaling my first year of college, and not to age myself, that was three years ago. Something about it just worked for me, it made life seem better, so I kept at it. Here is the reason I journal, things I journal about and the three journals I am currently working on.

I've been journaling for the last three years. Between nine moves, five semesters at two colleges, three churches, two breakups and three jobs, those pages and I have been through some serious junk. There's nothing that has happened to me throughout college that you wouldn't find a page here about.

I'd like to start by saying that I never get rid of my old journals, and never intend to. I've looked back at a few and could read about little Vada's life and see how much she's changed, but some are still too fresh to read. Here are all of the journals I have filled thus far.

Now, how in the heck did I fill all 12 of these journals? Pretty easily, if you ask me, but I also have a lot to say and a big passion for writing. Here are some things I write about.

Spirituality: a lot of these pages are filled with notes from my Bible readings, sermons, devotionals, prayer requests and my own prayers.

"Dear Diary" Entries: as cheesy as it is, most of these are writings about what happened that day. I feel like this, this happened, today was blank. It feels stupid to think about, but sometimes just writing out how my day was helps me get over it or feel good about leaving physical evidence of a great day.

Failed attempts at bullet journaling: we really don't need to talk about this one. Ya girl cannot bullet journal.

Drawings: I am not very good at drawing, but I want to be. In order to (hopefully) be good at drawing one day, I have filled many pages with attempts at drawing.

Stories? Maybe: I don't know what to label this. Sometimes I'll walk out into nature, sit on my front porch or find a booth at a coffee shop and people watch (creepy I know) and just write something based off of that. Imaginary stories of people's lives, the minds of birds that fly over a lake. Stuff that really doesn't make any sense, but it just does in the moment.

Self improvement/ lists: I fill a lot of my other pages with gratitude lists, goals, grocery lists and ways to make aspects of my life better. I feel that once I write something down it becomes more permanent and I want to do it more.

After three years of journaling, I've come to find it as my safe space and never run out of things to write about. I currently have three journals I am working in now:

1. My 'everything journal'

This is where I put my "dear diary" entries, lists, drawings and random notes from phone calls or when someone tells me to write something down quick. It's really a dump for anything that comes into my brain.

2. My spiritual journal

This is where I take notes on scripture I am reading, write down prayers and prayer requests, work through devotionals and also draw.

3. My sermon journal

This is where I keep all my notes from sermons. I keep this separate from my spiritual journal for a few reasons. One, because it's easier to refer back to sermons when they are all in the same place and it only gets written in once a week. And two, because I am petrified of forgetting my journal at church and having someone find a little more personal stuff than just sermon notes. All about safety, y'all.

Okay, so that's a lot of journaling. But why?

Ever since I started keeping a journal I found life a lot easier to handle. Problems don't seem as big and scary once you untangle them from your head and on to paper. Goals seem much more attainable when you write them down with little bullet points underneath on how to make it possible. I don't obsess over small thoughts anymore because I am able to get it all out out, every last silly thought, out into the world.

I feel like I have learned a lot about myself, and left myself with tangible evidence that I am growing, changing and overcoming things throughout life. Journaling has made me more creative, and allowed me to let go of my very serious personality. Everything in my life is to a very specific order, I like things done perfectly and my way. But, when I journal, there are no rules. I use different colored pens. I don't correct words I spell wrong. There are (true story) tear drop and spilt ice cream stains on one page from a very bad night in one of those old journals. I try to let my life come as it is when I journal, I see no need to pretty my life up for, myself when I already know the scariest parts of it.

Journaling has helped me document the good times too. Every day when I journal I dedicate one page to "Five things that made me happy in the moment today." Doing this has forced me to do things on days I don't want to, because I need something besides Netflix to put on the list. It has also helped me re focus on the good and allowed me to look back on hard days and see that the world is still full of smiles when you look a little harder.

If you haven't tried journaling, I would reccomend it to everyone. Try it for a week and see if your outlook on life or circumstances changes. Let me know in the comments what your experience with journaling has been like.


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