My sister and I started writing personal journals when we were super young, less than ten years old I guess. I don’t remember who pushed us towards it. It must have been either Ma or Koka, our maternal grandfather. People would gift us corporate diaries, which they had received at new years and we would hop away grinning like a Cheshire cat with them. Sometimes they were small, and sometimes larger. Apart from journaling, such diaries were used for other purposes like noting down lyrics of songs, separate for English and Hindi songs.
In the beginning, we would write only on special days. Like when we were invited to a birthday party, we would note down who all were there, what was on the menu and what games we played. Then on our own birthdays, as to who came and with what gifts!
As we became older and sibling rivalry set in, we wrote almost on a regular basis. What happened at school, what we did, our feelings about anything or anyone, crushes and what not. We kept our journals secret, locked away from each other. Our parents didn’t have prying eyes, so they were not a threat. But we were to each other’s journals. As gawky teenagers, we didn’t share our feelings with each other. Even though we were at the same school and only a class apart, we didn’t discuss our friends, problems or anything. But we do were curious as hell!! So instead of sharing stories and feelings, we resorted to reading each other’s diaries stealthily! Funnily, when we fought and quarreled, we would often end up spilling the beans about it. And then hell would break loose. Keys got hidden in more secretive places, the journals got guarded more furiously.
I maintained my journal throughout my teenage years and college. Then somehow I stopped. Several years went by before I started again. I usually wrote when I was unhappy and needed to lighten my heart. But then I stopped, again.
Looking back now I realise that it was a healthy habit. Teenage years especially is a difficult phase of one’s life. Simplest of matters seem super complicated and smallest of concerns seemed like a matter of life and death. Opening up to parents or siblings is often considered out of question. And friends may not always understand. Bottling up emotions and feelings may end up affecting mental health negatively. In such a scenario, venting out one’s feelings in a journal can be very, very theraupatic. This holds true in any age or phase of life.
Presently, I am at my parents’place. The original plan was to stay here for a couple of months, allow my body to recuperate post-delivery in maternal care and then be back home. But the ongoing pandemic has hit us all like a storm which is refusing to abate. So we are still here, fortunately, all together. We are left with no option but to take each day as it comes. And honestly, we are in the best place we can be right now.
But human beings are complicated, aren’t we? Motherhood can be overwhelming. Inability to move around can feel like being shackled, even though I am not the outgoing type. Not being able to plan the days ahead can be frustrating. Plus, I have been trying to understand a certain aspect of my life and going through a lot of conflicting emotions lately. In the process, I have resorted back to my original therapist, my journal. Frankly, it is helping me gain insights into my feelings, reasons for my emotional turmoil and find answers. Most importantly, it is helping me to unburden my heart and clear my head to a great extent.
Journaling is often associated with adolescents and young adults. But factually, anybody can benefit from this meditative practice. My maternal uncle still writes regularly. A well expressed journal can provide fruitful insights into your life because it’s not necessarily just about documenting your life. It is relationship you can have with your own self. It can even be a spiritual experience.
Maintaining a journal can promote a sense of well-being and positive mental health. when you write down your feelings, reflections, dreams, goals, joys, sorrows, anger and fears without any hesitation, it clears your mind and connects your thoughts. It can show you what you were, what you are and what you can be. It is a kind of self-talk which can unwind, soothe or even motivate you. It can also help you to understand yourself better and guide you to where you want to be in your life.
So if you are someone who has a lot going on in your mind or heart but are unable to open up to anyone, I urge you to start writing a journal. It is very important to share what you are going through, no matter how silly or grave it may seem. And if you can’t trust anyone at the moment, just let it flow in your journal. Trust me, you will feel a lot better.
Read more about effective journaling here.