Have you ever kept a diary or a journal? I had my first diary when I was around 10 years old. It was the kind that had a very, very, very tiny little lock on the front of it. It looked nearly identical to this one.
The lock was so cheap that you barely even needed the silly little key that came with it. I used to open the lock by hitting it with my fist in the same way that Fonzie on Happy Days would hit a jukebox to get it to play music. It worked for me (and for The Fonz) every time.
Being only 10 years old, I didn’t have many exciting things to write about, so I didn’t use it for very long. The next diary that I got came when I was a freshman in high school.
Okay, not an actual diary, but I did get Ozzy Osbourne’s great Diary Of A Madman album back then. Alright, that certainly wasn’t the best joke I’ve ever told. I admit that it kind of stunk.
A year or so later, I started keeping a journal. It was just a spiral notebook, the kind you’d use in school, but it worked out perfectly for me. I’d write down all kinds of random thoughts in there. I actually located that notebook recently and it was fun to read through it. There were several entries about girls I had crushes on, dreams that I had, and insecurities and fears that I had. It was especially interesting to read about the things that I viewed back then as being “the end of the world.” They don’t seem so horrible now, but they sure seemed that way back then.
Looking back on keeping that journal, I know now that it was a very valuable experience for me. Even though I had a lot of friends at that time, I was still a bit of an introvert and I kept a lot of things to myself. Writing in the journal gave me a chance to let out some of the sad and angry things that were buried deep inside of me.
Letting them out always made me feel at least a little bit better.
Like a lot of people do who keep a diary or a journal when they’re a kid, I stopped doing it as I exited my teenage years. Life moved on…
Flash forward to 2016 and I’m keeping a journal again. I started doing it a couple of months ago on a very sporadic basis. There were some things going on in my life that were troubling me and when things got especially bad, I’d sit down and write out my thoughts and feelings.
Just like how journaling helped me work through problems in high school, I found that doing it now in the present was no different. It very much became self-therapy for me and it made me feel better.
But then I decided to take it a little bit further. As I said earlier, I’d been doing the journal entries only occasionally, at times when I was feeling especially low. What if I changed that and started writing in the journal every single day? What if it became about more than just the things that troubled me? What if I went much deeper and wrote about other types of thoughts and feelings that I have?
So, I started writing in the journal each and every day. I made a few rules for myself. One was that it was to be more about what was going on inside of me and not be a chronicle of simple things like me going to the store to pick up donuts. My second rule was that each entry has to be at least 500 words. That way, there’s a much better chance that I’ll always have to really tap into myself to get enough material for 500 words. My last rule was that I write these journal entries first thing every morning.
And you know what? It’s felt great! With doing them in the morning, I’ve been going into each day with a clearer head. If I had woken up with any negative feelings, I faced them and tried to work through them in my journal. If I woke up with nothing but wonderful feelings, my journal entries let me write about those feelings and then embrace them even further.
Each and every one of my journal entries has been a step to self-discovery for me. I truly examine my feelings, my desires, and my dreams. It’s been wonderful.
And you know what? I realize now that maybe those silly little keys that come with those diaries aren’t so silly after all.
Maybe those keys aren’t so much for locking others out, but they’re actually for unlocking the mysteries that lie within us.