I remember purchasing this journal in San Francisco, just after my relationship of four and a half years ended.
At the time, my head was so clouded that I couldn’t even put into words the emotions I was experiencing. I felt numb. My aunt and I were walking around Target, getting some laundry detergent and various other household essentials, and I saw the section of notebooks and stationery. I immediately thought, that’s what I need. I need to just write it all down, just word vomit into a book, and hopefully by physically closing the chapter, I can emotionally close the chapter too.
I didn’t think that I would use the journal for very long; never in my life have I completely finished a journal. I thought it would be something I would use to document my feelings during the break-up for a few months or so and then I would lose the journal and lose the emotions.
It was quite the opposite though. I never lost the journal. I never lost the emotions. In fact, I actually turned both them into really helpful tools.
Slowly, my journal became a steady outlet in my life for almost any topic. This journal felt like a friend, a confidant. Whenever I needed to, I could explain the story to my journal, and it would point me in the direction I needed to go.
I know that it was my own mind and the act of organizing my thoughts that gave me said clarity, but by narrating the story, and speaking to someone fictious, it also helped me with loneliness. It felt like someone was there in the best of ways. Plus, because of this feeling, I could carry the journal with me on my most anxious days and it felt like I was safe. I knew if I needed to, I could escape to writing for a moment. It felt like a safety net. If I had my “safe place” with me, then I had to inherently be safe, right?
And the emotions- back in 2018, all I wanted was to discard the emotions. It was so heavy and I was so tired; I would have done anything to shake them off. But now, I am so glad that I still have these emotions documented somewhere. They are little less heavy on my shoulders, but I still have them as a part of me, a part of me that has experienced the good, the bad and the ugly and is better equipped to handle whatever comes next.
With every literal and metaphorical end of an era, you can’t help but reflect on what was accomplished during that time. As the pages of this journal dwindled down, I began to remember who I was when I first began writing in this journal. I made a list of all the things that happened to me, all the ups and the downs, and it was so amazing to see how many things had occurred during that time.
I think it’s very easy for all of us to get caught up in the day-to-day, and specifically for me, to get caught up in the negative things that happen each day or the worries of what might happen tomorrow. So, to take a moment and look back at how far I’ve actually come was priceless. It gave me such a different perspective.
After writing out my list of moments in recent years, I was hit with this overwhelming confidence in how much I had persevered through, how many obstacles I made it through. Instead of me looking at the present or the future and saying “oh gosh, yet another thing I need to worry about,” I was met with the thought of “wow, if I’ve made it through all of this, I can certainly tackle the next monumental moment.” In addition, it showed me that there were some beautiful moments amongst the ugly. There were so many milestones I was proud of, and the pessimist in me had completely overlooked my joys and my accomplishments. It was really nice to celebrate those moments in a mindful way and consciously feel proud and happy.
This was a great exercise. I would encourage anyone to get a journal, write down anything and everything because for one, it will clear your head and you will come to resolutions that you may not have otherwise seen, and for two, documenting all the things you’ve been through can show all that you’ve overcome and all of the joys you experienced throughout.
With the methodical pace of writing by hand, I practiced mindfulness, thanks to this journal. As the ballpoint glided across the page, most of the time not fast enough to keep up with my thoughts, I was reminded to slow down, thanks to this journal. I was better able to clear my head, thanks to this journal. I had a trustworthy friend to confide in at any moment, thanks to this journal. I had a safe space, thanks to this journal. And now, I have the most amazing personal history book!
I love the woman who wrote this journal. Even though there were some dark and confusing moments, where I had no idea what direction I was headed in (still don’t), I persevered. I continued to discover myself, I continued to push myself, and I am a different woman today, two and a half years later, because of it. I am more outspoken, confident. I know what I deserve and I’m less willing to put up with bullshit. I am more adventurous and excited about experiencing the beautiful things life offers. And most importantly, I’m proud of myself.
I have another journal, ready to crack open and I can’t help but feel so excited and so intrigued to discover the woman who writes this next one.
PROMPT: Take any number of years (Two and a half, five, ten, etc.) and list all the monumental things that happened to you. The good, the bad and the ugly, all of it. Then reflect on how those moments have changed you. Which ones do you think about often unprompted? Which ones did you forget about? Which ones are you proud of? Which ones made you learn something new? Then, write out what emotions you feel from this exercise. How have you persevered? How have you adapted and changed your mindset? How have you retreated and shied away? How have you blossomed? Furthermore, what direction do you want the next x number of years to take and how can you shape it to be just that?