How to Keep a Journal After 4th Grade

How to Keep a Journal After 4th Grade

As someone who was once an 8-year-old girl, I’ve owned many diaries. These diaries all came in different shapes and sizes and colors, but each one always had two things in common. Every diary came with a lock, promising unparalleled levels of protection for my deepest darkest 8-year-old secrets, and every diary contained approximately 3 entries total.

Each entry sounded something like this:

 Dear Diary,

I am going to write to you every day. Today is a good day. I’m having a play date with my best best best friend today. Her name is _________. We have fun. I have a crush on a boy. His name is __________. I like him sosososo much. :)

Love, Me

OR like this:

 Dear Diary,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I lost the key. I HATE my mom today. She is the meanest mom in the entire world.

Love, Me

P.S – Just so you know, I still really like ________!!! He’s sosososo CUTE!

But, regardless of my seldom use or need for these diaries, as a child, it was the idea of keeping a diary that I loved the most. In each of those precious 6x4 inch notebooks was the promise that my thoughts were important and worth remembering. They made the idea of my life more mysterious and entertaining through their implied promise that I had secrets that no one else was allowed to know.

As a girl, I’m pretty positive that this phenomenon of many-owned and hardly-used diaries is not something that I’ve experience alone. It’s a girl thing, something most of us grow out of. But, it’s this very idea that a diary or a journal is something only for little girls that prevents so many of us as adults or young adults from experiencing what a wonderful and cathartic joy (and tool) they can be.

A journal can be a non-harming release of anger, a way to remember an important thought or realization, a record of an exciting time, a creative outlet, and so much more.

Now, if you’re anything like how I used to think, you’re skeptically shaking your head right now and thinking to yourself, “journals are for [insert derogatory insult here].” I personally never believed that I could ever actually enjoy, let alone need, a journal in my life until I was forced to keep one.

At Kripalu, where I completed my yoga teacher training, we were required to keep a journal. Sometimes we would have mandatory journaling sessions after specific lessons or experiences, but mostly they would just remind us every now and then to keep writing down our thoughts.

At first, I felt awkward and self-conscious. My mind was a series of questions and my pages were all blank.

How am I supposed to address it? Dear Diary? That sounds stupid. What am I supposed to write about? Are my thoughts even worth writing? – And there it was, that single self-deprecating question that summed up all of my anxiety about keeping a journal. Am I worth it?

I believe that this is the issue with which most of our society struggles. We’re taught from such a young age the importance of humility, but through this emphasis we lose the simultaneous importance of confidence. OF COURSE YOU’RE WORTH A JOURNAL. If anything, it’s only for you anyway. This is the one place where you can write freely and openly, without worrying about how it sounds or what your grammar looks like. Your journal is for you.

As my time at Kripalu continued, I became more and more dependent on my little notebook. I wrote in it almost every day and sometimes twice a day. For me, writing in my journal was both a catharsis and a way to remember every thing that I was going through that I knew I did not want to forget. And to this day, almost a year later, I treasure my Kripalu journal more than any other material item in my possession.

BUT, I must admit that starting a journal is not an easy task. It was easy for me because it was required, but that isn’t the case for most people. The trick, I’ve found, is to simply keep it with you at all times. You’ll be surprised how often you feel that little itch to write something down that you don’t want to forget. At first, it will probably be just grocery lists and errand notes, but then you’ll have an idea. It’ll be just the flash of something, probably something that you don’t want to forget for your job or school project, but you’ll want to remember it so you’ll write it down.

And then, something will happen that just pisses you off to no end. It happens. So, you’ll want to write down all of the reasons why you’re so mad and why the other person is so wrong, you know, so can remember all of them to tell him or her later. But, then you’ll realize that after writing them all down, you’re not so mad anymore. It’s magic really. I can’t explain why it works or how, but I just know that it does. Before you know it, your journal will feel like a part of you, something that you need in order to function properly, like an extension to your brain, and you’ll start to notice how full your mind feels without it.

Most importantly, though, you must remember that your thoughts and your experiences ARE important. No matter how trivial or insignificant you may find them, they are part of your life, and your life is important.

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  • Awesome. I think I keep an exploded journal: one 80-page word document of quotes (personal, friends and fam), one of band names and several notebooks of random things like what music i'm listening to or jamming and what the hell i just planted in the garden. I need notebooks in my life. Just can't get over the tangible paper and pen. So the crucial points here resonate: a way to remember things and an outlet to be creative. Nice.

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