At seven years old I walked into a local CVS store down the street from my house and fell in love with a 3 x 5 inch Lisa Frank notebook (any 90s kid, girls in particular remember her). There was a bear on the cover and it was shiny, bright and, dare I admit, a bit gaudy. In other words, it was simply beautiful. It also cost about three dollars. So I went home and counted all the change I had until I knew there were enough quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies–so many pennies–to cover it all. Once I went back to the store, dropped my change on the counter, and bought the notebook, I was content. This was the beginning of my journaling experience. I wrote everything across the purple pages in youthful spelling: where I went, people who came over, TV shows I liked, my obsession with Mary-Kate and Ashley, the list goes on. Over the past 14 years (wow I sound old) I filled up 17 journals and notebooks, the last of which I have written in sparingly during my 4 years of college because I was too busy to keep up with daily or weekly accounts (although I do have a good amount of journaling on my computer where it was much easier and faster to write out my day). I know each one by cover, what period of my life it holds, where I bought it, who gave it to me if it was a present, and major things that unfold between the pages. At a time when I couldn’t imagine not feeling the way I felt at the moment, it’s so nice to go back and read through them and see what I thought about life and what I was going through.
Some people name their journals, as Anne Frank so famously named her diary “Kitty.” I often would just write Dear Diary at the start of my entries for the first few years, then I eventually began to simply write the date and begin jotting words. Halfway through high school I named mine Kassi, short for Kassiopeia, a celestial queen whose name in Greek means “she whose words excel.”
I glued a few pictures and newspaper clippings into some over time, and a couple I decorated with doodles or colorful page numbers. While I have gotten older and the pace of life has vigorously increased, I still find it relaxing and necessary to write out things about my life or events that take place. It’s therapeutic in a way that few things are and extremely intimate, as writing challenges you to be honest with yourself above all else, even if you can’t be with another person. The more you write, the more comfortable I”m sure you will be with sharing your ideas.
Although these books contain personal thoughts and muses I’d like to think that if I one day become well-known they can be a clue to help biographers learn a little more about me. And at the very least, they’ll be proof to my children that I was once a young kid too. It’s also nice to see how far you’ve come and where you are today compared to where you thought you would be. It’s amazing what predictions we make about the future without realizing it, and how much of our beliefs and philosophies we share when we are just talking about an event or conversation in our mind.
If you haven’t tried keeping a journal before I would urge you to do so. It’s very helpful and a lot of fun, and especially liberating if you are going through a particularly exciting or rough period of life. You don’t have to keep them by hand like I do, many people keep diaries online or on a word processing program as I have the past few years. It’s much faster for a busy lifestyle, however nothing beats good ol’ pen and paper!