Eight years ago, I started writing down my thoughts and experiences and sharing them with the world.
I'd just left my job at the time and it felt like the start of something new, but I didn't really know what that was or where I was heading.
At the time, I didn't consciously realise this was "journalling"... I was just writing things down and sharing some of those things on the internet.
It was initially quite sporadic and experimental but, over the last few years, I've been journalling in the privacy of a notebook, and blogging on the internet, with consistency; blogging initially took precedent (I've been writing to a blog & newsletter most weeks for nearly 4 years), though I now journal more than I blog.
I write in my journal almost every day, and often more than once a day. I'm going through a gnarly, transitionary period in my life and - lately - I've been reminded exactly why I need journalling, a simple practice that I can easily take for granted.
So I suppose this piece is looking at why I journal, and sharing that with you, too. A trusty companion Journalling has helped me make sense of the world - of my world - as I've navigated life transitions, spent time abroad, tackled questions around work and identity, examined the strands of my past, and the relationships that have entered and run through my life.
When there hasn't physically been someone there to listen, or if I've simply not needed to be heard or understood - I've wanted to process and make sense of things of my own accord - journalling has helped me do that. It's the trusty companion that's always there, inviting me to sit down, share and process. A mirror I recently came across the quote "I don't what what I think until I write it down". Journalling is like a mirror that reflects what's happening not only on the outside but on the inside, too.
I'd go so far as to say that "I don't know who I am until I write it down".
Writing things down certainly helps bring understanding and perspective. A restorative practice At times when I've had thoughts swirling around my head, or I'm processing a knotty moment in my life, journalling has been there to help make sense of and move through the situation.
It's of no surprise that journalling has been scientifically-proven to have a similar effect to meditation, on both mind and body, activating theta waves (brain) and relaxing the nervous system (body). A neutral sounding-board Often when you're in a particular situation, it can be difficult to find someone you can trust who can act as a neutral entity to listen and hold space for whatever is going on in your world.
If I'm navigating a tricky situation, whether it's a life transition or something someone has said or done something which has brought up an old wound... there have been times when I've tried to find a helpful, listening ear in someone close to me.
But, oftentimes, it's (literally) a little close to home. And especially when it comes to situations involving other people in the family, there is too much self-interest that can prevent you from being seen and understood; at worst, what you share can be made to seem invalid, that your experience is false and unworthy, and you're told to "get over it" or to "not let it affect you so much".
In these situations, we can be made to feel small, ashamed, unworthy, and even insane for the experiences that we are having.
This can be hurtful; when someone we have a close relationship with (by blood or otherwise) is the not-so-helpful sounding board we are expressing ourselves to.
This is where journalling comes in. A safe and trusted space where you can let out whatever is on your mind and heart in all its glory - unfiltered and without fear of judgement, or a reaction (lack of or unhelpful) that may come back your way.
Journalling has allowed me to express fully and without judgement, without fear of the reaction or repercussions from doing so.
("A notepad is like a lovable pet", is the thought that's coming to mind right now) Connection... The previous points have pointed towards how writing (through journalling) can help us connect with ourselves.
It's through sharing some of this writing that's enabled me to find connection with others.
In my professional life, I come from a customer service and sales background, where connection was at the heart of what I did.
Connection in the written word can be just as powerful - sometimes even more so - when it comes to connecting with one another.
Which is why I'm grateful for the words I've written and read, the treasured moments I've shared with myself - and with others - all the connection made possible, through my writing.