Wednesday, November 6, 2013

26 Journals Over 26 Years

I promise, I didn't intend for it to work out that way, but over the years I've filled up 25-going-on 26 journals. I'm 26 years old. For some reason that feels significant, but I'm sure it's not. 

I keep all my journals on the same (dusty...sorry you have to see that) shelf in my studio. It makes me happy to see them all lined up, knowing that my life's history is scribbled on those pages. I can tell you what season of my life I was in just by looking at the cover of each one. Including the dark days of the fuzzy leopard journal. (Seriously. Why did I pick that one?) 

Darling Magazine wrote an article called The Art of Journaling, and I started thinking about why people journal, so I asked some of my facebook friends why they chose to start journaling. The general consensus was to express emotions in a "safe" place where they can't be judged. Journaling helps people clear their mind and maintain a sense of history. Some of them used a journal as a prayer book, a place to talk to God. My sister started journaling when I suggested it to her after she had a hard adjustment to leaving public school. It is something different for each person.

Our childhood was a weird but amazing one. That being said, it was sometimes hard to share it with other people my age because it was such a foreign concept to them. My journals became a place to emotionally vomit everything I was feeling onto the page. I would write page after page daily for weeks at a time. Sometimes I'd write once a month. It all depended on what I was feeling at the time. Even as an adult, I'm not particularly disciplined about it, but I know I have the option to write whenever I need to.

While I'm not sure what first inspired me to start writing things down, it became a very important part of my childhood. Mama gave me my first journal: a blank book left over from a women's conference at church.  Here's the beginning of the first entry.

Riveting stuff, right? P.S. I did not make the basketball cheer-leading team. So sad.

In between the seventh grade and now, these books have seen me mature as a writer. (There's significantly less horrifying awful poetry that's for sure.) Not only have I grown in terms of what I write but also what I use these journals for. 

Sometimes I use it as a miniature scrapbook.

Or I use it as a private version of pinterest with clippings and pictures of things I love.

I keep my schedule/calendar in it.

And lots and lots of lists. This particular grouping of lists are from a notepad that Katie Daisy no longer sells, sadly. It's a daily list of things I was thankful for that day. Every few days or so, I would tape the lists in my journal.

My two most recent journals were given to me by Jared. He found them on etsy, and what I thought was SUPER COOL was they were partially used already! I find it fascinating that someone else started to use them, and I wonder why they stopped.

Someone had been keeping a ledger in the blue one!

And in the green one, someone had been keeping up with things of office importance (and gossip!).

This blue leather journal is my 26th and current journal. It's full of pictures, schedules, feathers, lists, craft ideas, and hopes for our future.

Journaling is important to me because it has become an outlet for my creativity to take shape without worrying about anyone else seeing it. It can be raw and ugly and awful, and that's okay. We all need a place to explore our creativity without judgement or criticism. One of my friends messaged me in response to my question about journaling, and I really enjoyed what he had to say about it: "Journals are like invisible friends for adults. It's hard to find someone to simply listen, and journals are really great about just listening and not giving advice or judging."

That's exactly it. For me these journals hold a written record of my life. My love story with Jared. The death of my friend and our strange and complicated relationship. They're more to me than just leaves of paper bound and glued together; they're love notes to future generations. They're honest and ugly and wonderful all at the same time.


  1. I love love love love love this post so much. Love it. I have kept journals since I was very small--pretty much as soon as I started writing, I started journaling. My elementary journals were little diaries of secret crushes and recess-gossip. Like you, the journals have changed with me. As I got older, I began to use my journals more for self-expression: they are full of (not nearly as profound as I thought at the time) observations, poetry, art, etc, and also photos of friends, ticket stubs, etc.

    I've never thought much of it until I read this, but I think the major difference between the journals I kept when I was younger (20 and younger) were all for the present. I wrote for myself and for who I was at the time. But the journals I keep now are for the future--I write what I want to remember, what I want my children and my grandchildren and maybe even the girl who might buy my journal in a vintage shop 50 years from now.

    1. Do you ever go back and re-read what you have written just a few years before? Sometimes I do just out of curiosity, and it is so surreal to relive those moments over again.


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