Twenty-one years ago, when I was almost twelve years old, I used to journal a lot. I had one of those diaries that had a small lock and key on the cover that looked more like toys than actual security measures. I was always more sensitive than my older siblings. This sensitivity translated into writing, and I liked it, despite the fact my handwriting was terrible. I didn’t write stories or poetry like I do today, and I also didn’t write about love or anything like that. I used to write dreams and fantasies about magic or just some thoughts, usually about TV shows or books. I loved writing about these things (Spoiler: I still do).
One day, I came back from school to find my diary’s lock ripped open and broken. On the first page of my diary, just under the cover, I found the following words written in my older brother’s handwriting: “I read everything.”
I wrote thoughts in there that I had never shared with anyone. Having someone read those thoughts made me doubt my little diary, and I abandoned it at some point.
I mostly don’t remember anything meaningful from the years that I didn’t journal, which is sad if you think about it.
Around two years ago, my life became incredibly stressful. I work a full-time job as a Software Development Engineer. Workdays are long; I come back home exhausted; also, the office is in a different city, so I spend about 1.5 hours commuting every day.
You’re probably wondering, “what’s so ‘incredibly stressful’ about this,” right? Well, the problem with me is that I’m a dreamer. I come back home and start working on making other dreams come true. Whether it is getting out of debt or meeting my future wife, there’s never a dull moment.
I also manage two blogs, one in Hebrew and the other in English. Instruct a course on Udemy and in the middle of writing my first book in the Fantasy Genre.
At age 30, I rediscovered journaling, and it felt amazing.
Fortunately for us, toy locks have been replaced with secure apps. Your teasing sibling will need to be a pretty good hacker to inscribe “I read everything” on the front page of your password-protected digital diary.
I don’t journal every day. Sometimes I forget, other times I don’t have the time and then rebuke myself later. I found that when I do write, I feel better, maybe lighter? My thoughts are like water dripping into a bucket; the act of journaling empties the bucket and allows me to focus and put events in perspective.
Keeping a diary allows you to be utterly truthful to someone in your life. And that someone is your journal. It’s a terrible cliche, and like all cliches, it’s also true: We all lie.
We may not do it consistently or comfortably, but we lie. We may do it out of shame, low self-esteem, indifference, protection, and a bunch more reasons. Hiding these stories inside us is a massive burden that we shouldn’t bear alone.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou
Keeping a journal allows you to enforce an identity. When we lie to other people, we may not realize it, but we become our lies. But when you later write in your journal something like, “Jane invited me to this party and asked if I liked dancing. I told her I love it. I shouldn’t have lied to her about this.” or something similar that acknowledges the lie, then you reinforce your real identity.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank
The best benefit of those I already mentioned is that journaling allows you to process things and inspire creativity. Many of the stories I wrote were born out of something I said in an entry in my journal. It doesn’t have to be this big story inside your journal. It can work with just a single line that notes something that had happened to you, and the gears start rolling.
“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” — Hal Elrod
There you have it. Now you understand why I still keep a diary in my thirties. I recommend it whole-heartedly. Keep a journal. It’s never too old to rediscover yourself.
Thank you so much for reading! Do you keep a journal yourself? Feel free to start a conversation! I would love to hear about your own experience.