Journal Exercise

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I’ve always kept a journal. I wrote out my frustrations, my daily musings about life and happiness. I was an irregular writer. So I have 10-15 journals, some half filled. I abandoned them when I became bored with myself and the things I was writing about–which was often. In my moving process, I came across some old journals, previously forgotten, hidden under layers of dust in my storage unit. These journals were more time-specific. They were journals from a trip I had gone on about 15 years ago. I had forgotten they existed.

I read through some of it last night and it made me cringe. I can hardly remember the young woman who wrote those entries. Did she really feel that way? Was that what it was like to be that age? So unsure and uncertain. It’s tedious to read, though I am certain writing those feelings out were cathartic at the time. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about those journals. Thinking about choices I made. Thinking about where I am now.

I considered throwing them out. I don’t know that I want to remember these things. Not that they are painful because anything happened, but they are painful in the way that adolescence is painful. When you think that who you are going to the prom with is the most important decision you will make. It’s painful like growing pains. It hurts me to think that I spent so much time thinking about things that didn’t really matter. That didn’t matter then, and don’t matter now. My petty past frustrations about my friends or my looks are shocking to me now. Who has time for that, I think full of judgement of my younger self.

I keep a journal today but my writing seems different. More self aware perhaps? Or maybe 15 years from now I will feel the same about that journal, about even this blog?

And I don’t know what to do about it. Should I toss these old memories out? Make way for the new. Let this young woman loose? Thank her for being who she was so I can be who I am today? Or should I keep these journals. Find another dark place to store them. Let them collect dust for another 15 years so that I can be even more surprised at who I was. Who I am?

What do you do with your old journals?


  • Deimosa

    I hear you. I have journals from my first years teaching that I love and value so much. But the ones about personal stuff – ugh! What I did recently was turn them scrapbook-y; I cut inspirational images out of magazines and glued them over the sections that made me cringe. So the thoughts are there, and I didn’t destroy them, but I can’t see them ever again. Now I flip through those old journals with zero stress.

  • Bianca

    Deimosa I love this idea. By reconfiguring journals, their purpose and value changes. And this makes me think, perhaps in this new form they don’t get discarded. They become a different frame of reference. And another creative outlet.

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