Like many writers, I’ve grown up writing in journals ever since I learned how to write. Also like many writers, I have about 10 (if not more) incomplete notebooks, diaries and journals at home, with at least five new and untouched notebooks in my ever-growing collection. 

When I was 6, I started keeping track of all the major events that happened to me in whatever span of time I kept the journal for — events such as school field trips, ice cream outings with my mom and brother or a sleep over with friends were the major events that 6 year-old Anna would keep track of.

When middle school hit, I kept a diary as a place to write down all the intense emotions I was feeling as a pre-teen. It was the perfect place to keep my embarrassing thoughts and ideas without any judgement, with the exception of my future self looking back and cringing. Writing in my diary would happen on and off throughout middle school, but I finally stopped once my paranoia of someone reading it became too much.

I was half way through high school when I realized how therapeutic it was to write down what I was experiencing, and I picked up my journal again. I used it as a way of processing what I was feeling and a way of tracking my emotional growth.

Throughout the beginning of my college years, I didn’t allot much time to journaling at first because I was focused on getting the hang of balancing work and school. Once I had that down, I knew I wanted some way of tracking my life and thoughts and emotions, and was open to new forms of archiving this information.

It was around this time that keeping a bullet journal was the new trendy thing online. It was preferred over regular notebook paper because it was so customized and versatile. I liked the idea of having complete control over how I kept track of my life, so I purchased a $12 bullet journal from the store and began this new form of journaling.

I’ve kept up my bullet journal for the most consistent amount of time that I’ve ever had a journal, probably because I now use it for everything. I love making lists, so I make my bullet journal one giant to-do list of things I need to remember to do. I also try to write down one highlight of my day — every day of the week to help me learn to see the best in things, even the simplest of things like having a good talk with a friend or visiting a new place I’ve been dying to visit. I also leave a few pages blank for random thoughts or notes I might have during the week.

At the same time, I began a separate art journal, too. I have always wanted to be more artistic and expressive through different art mediums, so I bought a multipurpose notebook so I could learn more about watercolor painting. I also keep my photos, collages, acrylic paintings, occasional written thoughts, song lyrics or poems in this art journal.

This combined with my bullet journal is what keeps me sane. They’re the ways I can express myself in different capacities. I look forward to completing them (and actually completing a journal at all) and starting new ones.

These are the journals I’ll look back on when I’m older and remember what I did and how I felt at a specific time in my life, and that thought makes me excited.

I love the thought of being able to remember what I went through and seeing how much I’ve grown as a person, to be able to see what I’ve experienced and how I’ve learned from those experiences.

Even if you’re not a fan of writing or crafting, I think everyone can benefit from journaling in some way. We never stop learning, and I think keeping track of that growth will only encourage us to continue evolving into better people.

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