My Life

How Journaling Helped Me

I started writing in a journal when I was 6 years old. My parents were in the middle of a divorce and I had just moved to a new town with my mom, new baby brother and mom’s boyfriend (some would say stepdad).

I remember going to thrift stores when we were traveling between court dates and I remember finding a pink Barbie diary that had a lock on the side. I loved Barbie at the time and although the diary was used I wanted it because not all of it was used. My mom’s boyfriend bought it for me.

I began to write my secrets and one of my biggest wishes at the time was for my diary to talk to me so I could have a friend. My brother was getting majority of the attention and I wasn’t fitting in at the new school. I remember confessing my big wish to people and getting strange reactions. Lol. I could see how it could be seen as weird today, but at the time I was lonely and all I wanted was a friend. The days I wrote in my diary were the days I didn’t feel as lonely.

I kept writing in school and I would receive A’s on essays. I even won a contest I don’t remember entering in Elementary school. I was in second grade and it was my fourth elementary school and when my name was announced on the intercom that I won from second grade it changed my status in class. My classmates began to like me a little more, it might have also been because I won $10 with that contest. I did buy two snacks for a few friends. I think I spent like $3 and when I went home I remember my parents took the rest of the money. I don’t remember entering the essay personally, but I do remember being instructed to write an essay about Martin Luther King Jr. and Ceasar Chavez. It was unbelievable at the time to me that my essay won for my grade! It was a really big accomplishment and it made love writing even more. Throughout elementary I remember not really keeping a journal.

Once I started middle school I decided to start writing about how my days went so I could reminisce in the future. I enjoyed writing in my journal everyday. My little brother would steal my journal read it and then hide it which made me want to stop writing at times but I didn’t. In 8th grade I learned about Anne Frank and her diary and it terrified me. The holocaust and everything that she went through including every other person that had to experience the Holocaust. I read the diary in my English class and once I learned that people read her diary and it became famous I decided to stop writing in my diary. I stopped because it made me think someone would want to read my diary. LOL. Watching the Anne Frank movie in English class after finishing the book didn’t help me either. That movie gave me nightmares for weeks, it was horrible. I couldn’t get the images out of my head, yet I was fascinated with the event and the impact it had on history.

Safe to say, I stopped writing for a while because of that whole issue. I went as far as destroying my diaries because I didn’t want anyone to read my thoughts. I’m telling you the Diary of Anne Frank along with the movie had a huge impact on me. I didn’t start writing daily in my journal again until high school. I wanted to keep track of my last 4 main years of school. So I started writing everyday and I kept it up until my junior year in high school. My junior year had started to get busy, I was babysitting both of my brothers with one of them being a newborn. I was taking extra classes and volunteering at school. During my junior year I would write once a week or once every few weeks and try to remember everything that happened to still record everything.

During my senior year I discovered this girl on youtube who I really enjoyed watching and in one of her videos she talked about journaling. She said she started off each journal entry with 3 things she was grateful for, so I started doing that because that was the time I started getting depressed. Writing down 3 things I was grateful for helped me have a different perspective for a little while. I kept that up for a year or two and then stopped and went back to writing about my daily life, goals and dreams.

I have always loved writing in journals because I was never heard most of the time. Even though I would speak up I was never understood and nobody in my family seemed to care. Journaling was my way of getting a voice even though I was the only one that heard it. Every time I had a fight with my parents I would go outside and paint my nails because I wasn’t allowed to paint them inside because everyone hated the smell of nail polish. While I was outside I would sit and wait for my toes to dry and I would write in my journal most times with tears running down my face because of all the anger I kept inside of me. I couldn’t release my emotions all the time, so journaling was my main way of getting through my tough times at home. There were days where I didn’t paint my nails and I would just cry while looking up at the sky and stars hoping my life would get better. Then I would pour my heart out into my journal which made me feel better every single time.

In college, I began a memory jar because I was busier than ever. I had a panda jar where I would write on a small notebook paper a good memory I experienced and the date. I began to value simpler things like going out with my friends because I was never able to do that in middle school and high school. College made a huge difference for me. Although I would get yelled at all the time despite being “allowed” to go out I treasured every second I got out of it. I would write down each time I hung out with my friends, each good day I had at school, and every good memory that made me happy. I did that for about 2 years with writing in my daily journal on the side. I still have the jar and the memories to this day and that was almost 4 years ago.

Now that I’m working a lot harder on my blog I have a blogging journal that I’m working on. I wanted to buy a blogging journal, but I didn’t see the value when I could just DIY one myself. I’m still working on it, but once I have a little bit more filled in my journal I will share what I came up with.

I’ve been in a relationship for almost 2 years now, it’ll be 2 years next month. I have written 4 journals for my boyfriend describing every single date we’ve gone on during our first year. I had plenty of time to write because we were in a long distance relationship for the first year. Now that we live together I can’t get away with writing in my journal because he wants to read every single word. The journals I wrote for him are very detailed. I wrote down how I felt, what I wore and everything that occurred on each date. I wrote about our relationship and it was a great way to record everything. I still journal today, not as often because college keeps me busy. My goal for my journaling is to have enough journals to document the best moments of my life so I can give them to my kids. I want them to know every single thing I went through and to know they’re not alone. I would have loved to learn more about my parents by reading through their journals. I feel like I don’t write as often anymore because I’m happier. I do try to write so  I can look back at what I’ve overcome, but it’s not as necessary as it was before when I was 13 years old up until I was 20. When I first started journaling, it helped express my emotions and stress that I kept bottled up. Now that my life is starting to come together, I am much happier, and all I want to write about is the accomplishments I’ve made and how I got to where I am today.

Do you guys keep a journal and how long have you been writing?

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5 Comments

  1. What a beautifully written post- it’s so lovely to see how writing is special to every blogger out there and that’s what brings us so close together in this crazy and wonderful community! Sending you good vibes 🙂

    Nati x | http://www.lifeaftercoffeeblog.com | @NAfterCoffee

    1. DeannaSStilwell says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog! Sending good vibes your way as well. It’s an amazing community and writing has brought us all closer even though we all write about different topics. 😬

  2. YES! I love journaling. And the memory jar is such a cool idea.

    1. DeannaSStilwell says:

      Thank you! Journaling has helped me so much with managing stress and being creative. You should definitely try the memory jar it’s really fun and whenever you go back and read your memories you’ll realize you forgot half of them! Thank you for taking the time to read and for taking even more time to leave a lovely comment! Your feedback is very much appreciated!

  3. DeannaSStilwell says:

    Thank you! Journaling has helped me so much by managing stress and giving me a creative outlet! You should definitely try the memory jar, the fun part is reading everything after a few months or a year and remembering everything you enjoyed that forgot even happened!!! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and taking even more time to write a comment! Your feedback is very much appreciated.

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