Posted by Emily Fine
When I was younger, the closest I came to journaling was making to-do lists. I’d write a list every month or so, and I’m pretty sure every list started with “1. Freshen Up.” I’m glad I acknowledged the importance of hygiene and cleanliness at a young age. Also, who under the age of 70 uses the phrase “freshen up?” Maybe I’m an old soul?
Sometimes I would write down a funny or memorable statement that I had heard, but I would not provide any reflection. By the time I graduated from high school, I hadn’t written a journal entry or to-do list in many years. This all changed when I started my first year of college. Before moving into my dorm, my cousins put together a care package for me that included many items with funny descriptions attached to them. I got gummy vitamins with a description that said “Don’t get the freshman flu” a picture of my family that read, “We’re always watching,” and a journal with “Everything else you need to know about college” written on the cover.
The first few pages of the journal were taken up with written advice about college from my cousins and siblings who had graduated from or were currently in college. After finally moving everything into my dorm, I flipped through this journal and read their advice once more. Only the first few pages of it were used, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I began thinking of different ways I could use this journal. I thought about keeping it and writing my own advice after my first year of college and then passing it down to the next cousin, but the advice my family wrote was unique to me.
Ultimately, I decided on writing down a few sentences about each day of my freshman year. Although I initially thought I would only journal for my first year, I soon realized that I should extend this activity. At first, the daily reflection was the aspect of journaling that I enjoyed most. It is cathartic to write about my experiences and how I feel at the end of the day. Journaling has made me express my emotions in a written manner instead of just feeling them. This goes for both the good and the bad days. I learned how to not only convey in writing my excitement of making my first friend in my introduction engineering class, but also compose my thoughts and describe those days when I was in the dumps.
I still appreciate daily reflection, but now one of my favorite parts is flipping through old entries and reliving the day in my mind. It’s fun to pick a random date and have my entry trigger other thoughts about that day. During my first week of moving into the dorms, I made up a dance with a roommate, went to a Buddhist meditation, and tried to get a noise violation (with no success) just to see how loud I could play music. I may have remembered some of these days on my own, but I know I would not have remembered most of them. Journaling each day has made me reflect more on what goes on during my day. Otherwise, I would just let the hours pass by without recalling my days, unless something eventful happened. Keeping a journal has made me more appreciative of each day, and I hope others will give it a chance.