“It is 10:45 PM and I probably should be studying because I know ZERO history but I really wanted to write in this thing.”
This handwritten journal entry was dated November 18, 2008. It was the first of hundreds that span almost the entire scope of my adolescence between the years 2008 and 2014. In that entry, I had just turned fifteen. I was a sophomore in high school and my life was pretty uninteresting. Now, almost six years later, my life is probably still uninteresting, but this maroon Five Star five-subject notebook has traveled with me through all of the uninteresting times and assured me that maybe, maybe, a thing that happened was worth writing about. And I’m so glad I listened to it.
In my journal, I have sought solace and comfort and an escape from the opinions and judgments of my peers. The pages offered me nothing but space – for reflection, for venting, for self-discovery, for conversation. The same silver Sharpie doodles and cliché Taylor Swift lyrics have been scribbled on the back cover since my journal’s creation, and my twenty-year-old self still smiles at how much I can still relate to the quote, “You take my hand and drag me headfirst – fearless.”
Each entry is multi-dimensional. Forget the actual words, important as they are. Forget the content. Look at the urgency in the pen strokes. My handwriting transitions from neat to messy to apathetic and then back again, so you don’t even have to read what I wrote to know exactly how I felt. The angrier I was, the harder I pressed onto the page. The larger my handwriting, the more frustrated. Legibility is inversely proportionate to fury, and my happy entries are much better punctuated. As I read, I sense the stress in my wrist as I see it rush to express every last thought as if in a race. Some of my sentences aren’t even finished. I had (and still have) a habit of getting bored of what I write mid-thought, so I just stop. So many of my entries are undone, and yet so completely done in their incompletion.
The best part about a handwritten journal is that it’s all yours. Of course, your blog or online journal is yours, too, but does it really capture the depths of your loneliness and the intensity of your feelings for someone or something the way a super private journal might? The way your hand moves across the page, the amount of curse words you choose to spew at one specific person, the cries for help, the bouts of happiness, the anguish – in your journal, all of that is for your eyes only. You do not have to impress anybody. And in a world where image seems to be everything, that is a relief.
So, start journaling! You’ll thank me five years from now. I’m grateful that I’ve valued the trivial moments as much as the grand ones, and can now look back and laugh and realize that those times when I thought I’d never make it out alive, I did. It gives me hope. I’d now like to reminisce on some of those moments – from the menial to the magnificent – with a few of my favorite quotes, the author ranging everywhere from my 15-year-old self to my 20-year-old self. Enjoy.
By the way, these are not in chronological order.