I’m currently working on a self portrait that required three days of pouring over old journals and sketchbooks full of 6 years of thoughts, observations, and dreams. I absorbed page after page of half written stories, hastily scribbled ideas, and long-winded attempts to craft a personal philosophy. The pages were filled with insecurity, questioned beliefs, and frustrations toward the people who wove in and out of my life.
It was an emotional experience, to say the least, emotions that I described to my friend as neither good nor bad: “They’re…just emotions.”
It’s enlightening to see how I’ve changed and stayed the same. The experience drew out an intimacy with myself that couldn’t be found anywhere else, a deeper understanding of who I am and who I’ve become.
With that, this is my request: Write every day.
I know it’s hard. If you’re at all like me, at the end of a long day all you want to do is plop down in front of Netflix and go brain dead until you fall asleep. But I implore you to try.
Years from now as you’re cleaning out your closets and drawers you’ll find those notebooks with year’s worth of memories. You might set aside a time to crack open those journals worn with age. Then surprise yourself with the way you eloquently described your day job. Fume and cry as you relive failed relationships or a family death. Smile when you realize you achieved your goals, and contemplate those that didn’t pan out.
Ask yourself: In what ways have I changed? Stayed the same? Where do I need to grow, and where do I go from here?
If you’re very consistent it will read like a coming of age novel. You’ll close those dusty journals feeling like you read an autobiography of someone else’s life—and in a way, you have. You’re no longer that person but who she was influenced who you are today.
Even if you only write a paragraph about the struggles of potty training your dog or how you still miss your ex, those words are valuable. Writing is a gateway drug to self discovery, and it’s just as intoxicating.
P.S. Keep an eye out for updates on this project, more thoughts on journaling, and a recap on my trip to Portland and experiences with west coast road trips!