Journaling Is a Good Way to Figure Out Who You Are
It creates a record of your life that’s for you and you alone.
I’ve been keeping notebooks since I was in elementary school, but I became a full-fledged journaler in my senior year of high school. I was taking a class about modernism and postmodernism with my favorite teacher, Mr. Cho, and we were required to maintain notebooks, which we would turn in for a grade at the end of the semester.
As a major teacher’s pet, and a teenager having a great time exploring her budding passion for art and writing, I went hard with my notebook. I didn’t just write my thoughts about The Trial by Franz Kafka, or Civilization and Its Discontents. I chronicled my anxieties about writing, about being a teenager and a girl and a person in this world. I doodled, drew, and made collages.
Even in a situation where I explicitly had to share my notebook with someone else, journaling was a release, a creative way to work out my ideas about the world and my life, to expel my despair and enthusiasm onto a blank piece of paper, raw and unpolished, but also, aesthetically pleasing and funny.
After I graduated and went to college, journaling became part of my everyday life. Now, in 2022, I have dozens and dozens of notebooks that form a record of my life, the ways in which I have changed and also, stayed exactly the same, hundreds and hundreds of pages that reveal the recurring themes of my existence on the planet earth.
My notebooks from 2012 to 2015 are especially dark, a record of my struggles with depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and overwhelming self-hatred. Reading them alongside my journals from more recent years reveals just how much I’ve grown and changed, in big ways and small. I used to binge drink on the regs. I used to draw a lot of pictures of penises and write the word “CUNT” everywhere, because I wanted to be edgy. I was SO insecure. Nowadays, my drawings are more R-rated than X, and I can’t remember the last time I wrote an entry about what a piece of shit I secretly am.