When I was 15, I thought I was terrible at lots of things (hello math, French, and anything athletic), and just OK at a few things. I liked drawing, but I wasn’t the best in my art class. I liked writing, but it was hard to motivate myself to write outside of school. I wanted to figure out who I was, what I liked, and what I was good at. That winter, I took a cheap notebook from my room and collaged the cover until it was unrecognizable. For the rest of the year, I wrote in it once a week. My entries included poetry, sketches, collages, photo booth pictures, and other mementos. When I filled that journal, I started another one, and then another.
Now I go through a journal every three months. When I look through the hundreds of pages of my diaries, I’m reminded of dreams, disappointments, friendships made and lost, and embarrassing moments I thought I’d never forget (but did!).
Journaling is more than just a great way to remember life’s highs (and cringeworthy lows), though. Studies have shown that people who keep journals sleep better, feel better, and may even get sick less often. Writing about things you feel sad or worried about helps your brain process those emotions and move on. According to psychotherapist Maud Purcell, keeping a journal helps us “remove mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”