Breaking news: keeping a journal isn’t just for the teens anymore.
There are tons of reasons to keep a journal. It can help you find insight into your life and explore your emotions, which is especially helpful when you’re going through a particularly stressful period of time. You’ll have a record of your life that isn’t some insecurity-ridden online persona. (Looking at you, Facebook.) Most importantly, you have an excuse to buy yourself pretty blank books and fancy pens, which is crucial for your success in life.
The whole exercise can feel intimidating if you’ve never done it before. In this scenario, it is important to remember that there are absolutely zero rules. You don’t have to start your entries “Dear Diary, today I had toast for breakfast…” You don’t have to be Anne Frank-level eloquent. You don’t even have fucking spell things correctly. Throw your inhibitions into the wind like boiling water into the polar vortex. (Do not ever do that.)
You may think nothing happens in your life, but I guarantee you, stuff is happening. Lots of things happen over the long term, and you don’t realize things are changing until long after. You can start a journal with just a basic bio. Where were you born? What was your family like growing up? What’s your family like now? Where do you work? Where do you want to work? And so on. Prompts can be a big help if you don’t know where to start, and the people of the internet love making them. Tab over to google and go crazy. Of course, there’s also the tried-and-true method of just writing out whatever you’re thinking about, or the mundane details of your life, or letting yourself be over the top just to get something out of your system. Again, and I can’t really say this enough, there’s no wrong way to do this. Even the stereotypical image of a journal isn’t necessary: your journal can be a sketchbook, it can be on paper or on a computer file, you could do microjournaling (think Twitter, but for diaries.) Basically, whatever.
A lot of our record-keeping happens online, which is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it’s really convenient. However, when you do this on somebody else’s terms, you have to modify the way you do it. You could update your status every day and take a picture every time you do something, and it would still be an imitation of what actually happened. It doesn’t even necessarily happen on purpose, it’s just selection bias. You adjust what you say for your audience. But even more than that, you’re making that record according to the terms of some company, and ultimately, it doesn’t belong to you. There’s something really liberating about having a form of expression that is just yours, instead of being for other people. It’s honest.