Many people don’t realize it, but journaling is both a beneficial skill and a lot of hard work. That’s because when someone says the word “journal”, most of us think about those tiny supposedly locked books that young girls are notorious for keeping hidden under their pillows. Images of random, grammatically choked complaints about how unfair the world is, what cute boy noticed her, and who her new enemy are would drive anyone away from the practice (although in my defense, my journal tended to have bits of story and plans for taking over the world), but these girls are sort of on to something. There are even journals designed to help girls take the journaling process and turn it into something productive, possibly giving these girls a leg up on life.
Journaling, away from pink and purple bedrooms (including my own purple cave), is actually a really useful tool when it’s used correctly. A good journal records your thoughts. It records your accomplishments, your worries, your ideas, and your defeats. All of this in one (or many, in series) little space. What makes this self-generated life record so amazing is that it allows you to then look back on parts of your life in a more concrete way than your memory can possibly offer. You can look for patterns, for really happy memories, for that one irrational little rub that turned your best friend from childhood into your most hated enemy (Don’t look at me like that. I’m still on amiable terms with mine.). You can also look for plans and dreams that may have been dropped, and tackle them from your new vantage point as an older, wiser person.
But maybe you aren’t a wordy kind of person. The beauty of a journal is how nonjudgmental it is. You can draw out your life. You can create personal scrapbooks documenting your life. You can even make videos about your life (although most people I know who go this route don’t opt to keep them private. Always remember to get other people’s permission before you post their life online.) What I dislike about going visual is that we’re a lot less likely to record low points of our lives in pictures. We don’t want that memory. Again, the beauty of the journal shines through. You can always design a hybrid.
Whatever means you use to create your life record, journaling gives you a way to look back and reflect on your past to help you better direct your future.