The Art of Journaling: A Means of Self-Exploration for All
Yeah, yeah, so you’ve heard it before. Journaling is a good way to relieve stress, compartmentalize things you have to do and does great things for your mind overall. How many times have you been told to journal to relieve stress or to pick it up as a hobby? I cannot remember how many times I had been told before I actually started. I picked out a cute little journal over the summer with the intention of starting to journal when school started in August. However, I didn’t start and wasn’t planning on starting anytime soon until someone posted a “30-day Journaling Challenge” on their Instagram story.
So starting the month of December, I started doing a journal every day, following along with the challenge. I slowly started to realize that those people who had told me that journaling was a great way to de-stress were right. Every day, when I would whip out my journal to start writing, I would get this wave of calmness wash over me and it became a habit. I became proud of journaling and writing my thoughts down. It was not something that seemed cheesy or that only people in movies would do. Journaling helped me express who I am as a person.
I explored my identity through writing about different things in my life and different experiences I had every day. My journaling began with the “30-day Journaling Challenge” that challenged me to write small blurbs about questions such as “What are three words that you love?” to “What are three things that you admire about yourself?” After this challenge, I started writing small bits every day, whether it was about a person I had met that day or what I missed about home. Slowly but surely, I started writing about my identity such as how it felt to be an out-of-state student in a sea of Michganders or about how I dealt with being a POC in a school that was more than 50% Caucasian. These small writing sessions every day not only helped me relax, but it helped me hash out small bits and pieces of my identity that I have been building upon since I was a toddler.
And the phrase “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it” really does apply to journaling. There are so many different types of journaling. There are free-writes, where you can write anything that comes to your mind or that you want to write about. There are the journal challenges that give you pre-written prompts to write about every day. There is also something called bullet-journaling which, to me, seems like the top tier of journaling. Bullet-journaling is a very organized way of keeping track of anything and everything that you want to write down in an orderly manner.
There is no accurate way to journal. Journaling has been seen, stereotypically, as a hobby that many girls usually do. However, journaling is for EVERYONE. There is nothing extremely feminine or masculine about planning out your day or writing your thoughts down. Journaling is a great way to start your day, have a break in the middle or end your day with a destresser. Start small. Maybe start writing down little thoughts or doodles throughout the day on small scraps or sheets of paper. Give it a try and it may lead to something bigger. You might discover that journaling is a great way to organize your busy weeks full of classes and club meetings or to keep track of your good and bad days in a year.