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Documenting your life: the importance of journaling

Melissa Griffith

As a kid, I never really understood why people kept diaries. I tried to understand, and I made and attempt to keep one, but I never saw the significance of recounting my day in a book. Furthermore, I could never write entries with any sort of consistency– — not once a day, or even once a week. Writing down my experiences didn’t seem like it held any sort of importance. I felt as though I wouldn’t have a hard time remembering what my life was like, or that if I forgot anything, it would be worth forgetting.

However, early this year, I changed my mind. I found myself nearly halfway through my college experience, yet I felt like no time had passed. I barely had any memories from my first year at Wooster, and even my recollections from last fall were few. Many of you might not feel this way — however, as a result of numerous mental illnesses, I suffer from very poor memory, both short and long term. I felt a sort of panic, thinking that two years had passed, and I had very little memory to show for it.

Because of this, I turned to writing journal entries whenever I could. I’ve been writing for months now about mundane occurrences, fun days, mood changes and anything else that seems important in the moment.

Writing these journal entries has been rewarding. It’s often relaxing to review your day before bed. When it’s not, it’s nice to read old entries about good days. I can look back on specific days and see how and what I wrote about these days. I have recorded memories, in hard copy, for me to be able to look back on, even if the memories in my mind are faint. I have something tangible to look back on from these last six months — and it feels great. I wrote journal entries about my summer job, about my friends, about my vacation.

It has also been fun to find new notebooks and pens that I like using best. I’ve actually started taking more effective notes in my classes, using pens and notebooks that are better suited for me than what I had been using previously. These types of things may not seem important to everyone — but writing each of my classes in a specific color on different days helps me remember where to flip in my notebook when looking for notes to review. Using nice pens has also helped me enjoy the act of taking notes itself.

Not everyone has issues with memory. Not everyone cares what they write with; however, I think that journaling can benefit many people. The process is like taking snapshots of your life. You can write down your feelings and experiences and then later, upon rereading them, be brought back to the moments you wrote about. Writing entries only takes five minutes out of your day. Through journaling, I have found a new relaxing and fulfilling pastime that fits into my schedule.

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