I don’t know about you, but I like to think of myself as the “main character” in this life and to be totally honest, with all the trials and tribulations that life likes to hurl at me I think I deserve the title, in fact I’d say you do too. We are all living in our own individual storylines and as much as we like to deny it, to keep our seemingly humble image intact, there is a part in each of us that at times (in my case all the time) feels like the world revolves around us; or maybe I’m just self-obsessed and narcissistic, but that’s an issue for my therapist (if I had one).
Ever since I was younger, I’d ensure to save a piece from every significant chapter and event from my life; receipts, letters, a keychain and even a broken calculator - each of these rather odd objects are a page in the script of my life, or with how many things I’ve saved in mind, I’d say a sentence as my life would have to be turned into a trilogy and I think that’s too much for even myself to handle. However, despite all the memorabilia stocked up under my bed, I believe the best way to capture a time in your life is to journal.
Oscar Wilde, Leonardo Da Vinci, Frida Kahlo and Sylvia Plath all kept journals detailing everything from the obscene to the rather ordinary moments that they had endured and witnessed. For revolutionaries like these, journaling was an embodiment of the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and in times of mass discrimination, the absence of women’s rights and countless other factors that played into society in their time being quite regressive and close-minded, it seems that journaling was a “weapon for spiritual combat”. Journaling for people has been for centuries, a way to understand and develop ideas and principles by recounting the past, even if it was just a few hours prior, and additionally for us, it is a way to see the thought process and lives of the people we label as the 'greats' in our society, to travel back in time and live as them through their words.
With all this in mind, I’m going to set myself the challenge of journaling for the summer, to document my life over the next three months so that I can look back five or ten years from now and see how much (or how little) I’ve grown and developed. Journaling seems to have countless benefits which are evident from a study conducted by Harvard Business School, where participants who journaled at the end of the day had a 25% increase in performance when compared with a control group who did not journal. The researchers concluded, “Our results reveal reflection to be a powerful mechanism behind learning, confirming the words of American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: ‘We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.’”. So this year I am going to reflect on even the most mundane occurrences because who knows the significance of the small moments we experience in a few years from now. The pandemic has taught us, and thankfully so, to not take mundanity for granted, but to embrace it because you won’t know what your life will be in a months time or even a day. Anne Frank journaled to relieve herself from the stress of her unimaginable circumstances in a time where the world was plagued with war and darkness, she used journaling as a way to channel her grief and stress so that it wouldn’t negatively impact her already dreadful days as a young girl. Shia Labeouf was ordered by the court to journal his childhood and the trauma he’d endured in his youth, which eventually developed into his first screenplay “Honey Boy”. It was a way to venture into his past and for him to get to know himself better and overcome his struggles. A form of therapy.
So go get yourself a notebook and join me this summer in documenting your life. Do it in your own way. If you’d like, add drawings, print out pictures, personally, I’ll be sticking to just plain old words and if writing pages and pages every day isn’t your thing or you simply don’t have the time, then just write a sentence or two a day that summarises what’s been going on in your life, and now in 10 years time or whenever you decide to pick up that notebook again you will be able to see your growth and what life was like in Summer 2021.
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