My first journal was this tiny hardbound book with a gold lock. It had lined pages and alternated green, blue and pink shades. It was scented. My cousin who was then in highschool gifted it to me on my 9th birthday. I wrote “Dear Diary” and chronicled the stories of my 3rd grade self. I have no idea where that thing is now. I am thankful though to my cousin who introduced me to this amazing thing –the diary. Of course then, I did not think much of how great it was. I just naturally took to it like any introverted kid would. I enjoyed it and the events of my elementary school years seemed just too important not to write them all down. Ah, this is likely one reason why we get reminded to see life through the eyes of a child.
So I continued on, writing almost daily. I don’t remember ever buying diaries for myself. It just so happened that after I used up my first, I got new ones. My aunt in Filipino generosity, sent us balikbayan boxes from the States. The notebooks came with plush towels, Herbal Essences shampoo, Crayola markers and smell of Dove soap. I’ve had one covered in red Chinese print. Another printed with beautiful pink roses. I remember using that in 5th to 6th grade.
All throughout highschool, I wrote in these journals of friends, crushes and whatever tween woes I had. A classmate even gave me one with a green cushioned cover for our annual Christmas exchange gifts. One of the more memorable manita manito gifts I had. As a sophomore, I occasionally referred to writing as therapy. It’s funny now that I think about it because teen angst surely surfaced in my entries.
College was an amazing time for me. Unfortunately, I lost all my college journals. I thought I had safely stashed them along with my most treasured love letters in my aunt’s home in Quezon City. But then there were renovations, monsoons. Didn’t I tuck them inside a big plastic food container? Or did I pile them in those cigarette boxes that were moved to the storage then soaked in the rainy months?
There were nights I wrote peacefully with relaxed strokes, Other times, I wrote furiously, eager to share the best memories of university life. I spilled out my worries, my firsts, the happiness of eating at a cheap dingy place with delicious food, the kilig of seeing my crushes, the greater thrill of meeting my ultimate crush (my forever leading man) and the craziness that is my group of friends.
I continued to write when I began working. A couple of years after migrating, my diary writing took a back seat. Before I used up about one journal per year. Now I think I’ve had two journals from 2012 to this current moment. I don’t want to list down why this is so. We all know life happens. Recently, I’ve been seeing bullet journals and planner accounts on social media. I hear about it on podcasts. Isn’t it great how sometimes all it takes is a person to even mention it and that’s the kick in the behind that you needed?
This morning, I tried it again. A little bit differently. I realized that somewhere in the middle of years of journal writing, I wrote with so much judgement of myself. I erased, I edited, I got discouraged which is silly because I am only writing for myself. Girl, it’s a diary. Truly we are our greatest critics.
So again this morning, I wrote. Without judgement. No editing. Just free flow. I know. Liberating. Wow what a concept. So now as I am writing this comes an epiphany. Maybe, I should take this outlook I just discovered (re-discovered?) and apply it to other things, new things? At the start, do not edit yourself. I always had this quiet scorn for people who are overly protective of their hobby/passion/interest. I feel they shut others down, those who are only discovering it for themselves. But then I was doing that to myself when I was writing. This is an Aha! moment for me as I’m writing.
Benefits of journal writing? Keep memories for looking back, avenue for self exploration, resource for inspiration and epiphanies. It’s some kind of slap on the face you give yourself when needed and I don’t know if you noticed but I just gave myself therapy. Try it!