Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Journal writing and learning from the past

I spend a lot of time with my journals. I write in my current one about once a week, and I am in the process of typing up my journals, something I try to do a little bit of each day. I am currently on Journal #9, which spans my 8th-9th grade years. It was with this journal that I made the goal to write every single day of the year, and I almost delivered on that promise. I only missed 15 days during the year 2002. Which means that I have had to type up way too many entries about an emotional teenage girl who just couldn't quite fit in with any of the "cool" crowds and who worried about not having enough money to buy new school clothes.

I got my first journal from my Grandma Rushton the day I was baptized, and I've been a bit obsessed with journal writing ever since. Maybe I am just incredibly self-centered and feel that it is my duty to tell the world what happened during every stage of my life. However, there is more to it than that. :)

I have narrowed my journal-writing obsession to 5 main reasons:
  • I have a hard time letting things go. It isn't until I have written something down that I can put it aside and move on with my life.
  • The writer in me refuses to be silenced. I need to write: for me, writing is almost like breathing. It's a part of who I am and I love doing it.
  • It is crucial to the decision-making process. I'm not one to shout out to the entire world everything that is going on in my life. In fact, I am pretty secretive about a lot of things. Writing in my journal is how I work through things and make decisions. It's a pretty good system, I think.
  • It helps me sleep. I have never been a good sleeper. Don't get me wrong--I love sleeping--but falling asleep and staying asleep has always been very difficult for me. However, writing helps me sleep. I do most of my intense thinking at night (which doesn't help) and I have found that writing something down before I go to bed does wonders in clearing my mind. And since I started a blog I have been sleeping so much better. True, having a consistent sleeping schedule helps, but if my mind is racing there is no way I will fall asleep, regardless of how tired I am. Writing is one of the best soothers of the mind that I've been able to find.
  • For my posterity. General authorities are always telling us to write things down and I took that advice to heart when I was young. Now I feel duty-bound at times to keep my journal current. I think it's fascinating to read other people's journals, and maybe some day one of my grandchildren will feel the same way. Half the time I am writing to them rather than myself.
So aside from journal writing actually being fun and fulfilling, I have also received many blessings from this practice. Even before I started typing my journals, I always kept an old journal by my bedside so that I could read it whenever I was having difficulty sleeping or something. And it has always been fascinating to me to watch myself struggle through something and then come out victorious. I vividly remember certain experiences that I didn't think would ever end, but I got through them and am stronger today because of it. It baffles me sometimes the things that threw me when I was a teenager or a child, but it is a reminder to me that I have grown and overcome some barriers, even if I still have many more to overcome.

It also entertains me to see how little I have changed in certain areas, too. I always had a bit of an attitude, and my sense of humor can be traced back to my childhood days. It's just nice to know that no matter how much you change, the person you started out being will always be inside you somewhere.

Many times I will read entries in which I was struggling with something similar to what I am dealing with today. It's almost like having my own set of personal scriptures--I can look to the past to find answers about my future. I don't usually find any profound answers other than that I made it though it then, so I can certainly do it now.

And, of course, I love reading about the funny stories, memorable vacations, and growing experiences. I have always been a little bit afraid I would forget everything. That fear is alleviated, however, because I have written things down, whether they are important or not. I will always have my past with me even if I forget the finer points. This is why if there is ever a fire and I can only save a few things, I will go for my journals first.

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