September 1, 2003
“I go to first grad (class/period). I had a good first week. My teacher’s name is Mrs. Losser. I made new freds (friends) at school.”
When I was five years old I sat down to record my life. It made me feel smart and important. As I grew up I heard countless times that my posterity would be grateful that I kept journals and I should write about my life for them. So I did!
From age 5-10, I recorded almost every dinner my mom made..sometimes in excruciating detail. I wrote about birthday parties, class pets, homework assignments, who I sat next to in 3rd grade, etc, etc.. From age 11-15 I wrote about every boy in my junior high, the subjects I took in school, my friends, my cat… From 16-17 I mostly recorded letters to friends. But at 17 my journals changed…
Up until age 17, there is a huge gap – my journals were FULL of facts, but hardly any feelings or thoughts. Each entry was basically a summary of the day..and most of the days were about the same.
I remember writing those entries: as I wrote I would feel like there was someone reading over my shoulder saying “that’s stupid” “your kids don’t want to read about that” “you’re being dramatic” “YAWN.”
My imaginary audience made journal writing a chore I did “because it was good for me,” and made me self conscious about recording thoughts and feelings. I felt silly if I wrote what I was feeling, and the audience agreed.
Starting at 17 realized that there was no prescribed way to keep a journal and my journals weren’t serving me. I needed space to explore my thoughts and feelings, so I gradually changed my writing style. I started to write about things that mattered to me, whether or not I thought my posterity would care. I wrote about loyalty, friendship, need, the Atonement, grace, human connection, dreams, frustrations – anything that was on my mind!
I decided that I was the only audience that mattered, and when I did, the unkind chatter in my head disappeared. The “yawns” turned to interest and I got excited about my own life.
I’m 23 now and have 15 journals full of writing. But why do I write? WHAT do I write? How often do I write? Who is going to read it?
The answer is…whatever I want! I write what makes sense to me, and I write it FOR me.
So if you want to write only in lists, WRITE! If you want to write about what dinner you ate, WRITE! If you want to write 10 pages then tear them out and shred them up, WRITE! If you want to share your writing with your future family, WRITE! If you want your journals destroyed as your dying wish, WRITE!
The point is – whatever you do, write your story because you are constantly changing and you will lose touch with who you are now. Write a journal in whatever way works for you, as often as works for you – no one is looking over your shoulder or keeping tabs.
I’ve already lost touch with the person I used to be during that pivotal time, but when I read my journals I feel like I can revisit her and appreciate more fully the progress I’m making.