Days before I set off to move to Pennsylvania, one of my best friends encouraged me to start a journal after trying it out herself. Being someone with a strong tendency to procrastinate, I had already mulled this idea over and in fact bought several journals… These had been sitting unopened on my bookshelf for a few years or tarnished with a few pages ripped out for insignificant information and then discarded to collect dust.
For some reason, seeing someone else I knew complete this task and be excited about the results was all that I needed. I realized that moving away from my family & friends was something that I would want to read about in my own words in the future. So that night, I pulled out a journal and forced myself to just jot something down about my day and how I was feeling about leaving Washington. About a year and a half later, I can confidently say that the time I spent journaling was not wasted. In the moment, it allowed me a safe space to write about whatever I was feeling and process the events of this change. Looking back at the entries now provides a lens that enables me to see clarity in the ways that I’ve grown to see the world around me. Not to mention, it never fails to help me laugh at some of the crazy times I’ve forgotten about.
Journaling is also a continual way for me to take part in the recent uptake in “self-care” and breaking down mental health stigma. Some of the worst times for me have been the times where I didn’t want to write down how I felt because having it in record seemed too terrifying of an acknowledgement. However, pushing myself to process stress in a tangible outlet was the best thing I could do to help put a break in the dangerously paralyzing cycle of overthinking.
My advice if you’re interested at all in trying it out is to just pick up a pen and write and date something. In the beginning, the process can occasionally smell of brick & mortar classrooms with the echo of English teachers past instructing you to “write whatever it is you’re thinking until time is up!” However, if you’re anything like me, then you may find that it only becomes easier and more gratifying with time.