When I was in the fifth grade, a good family friend gave me my first journal. None of my entries started off with 'Dear Diary' but many of my entries began the same way. There were days I wondered if I was going to win the spelling bee. If the boy I liked would send me a valentine. Why my best friend was mad at me again. The journal was meant to serve as an outlet for any emotions I might be feeling following my parents divorce. I feel that our family friend saved me a lot of money in therapy by giving me such an outlet.
Looking back I see that over the years not much changed in what I wrote down. I rarely wrote when I had a good day. I always wrote when I was sad or mad or confused. Although the names and situations changed, the common theme throughout my journaling days was - "Will I find someone who loves me?" and "What am I going to do with my life?"
Then something happened.
I started throwing away my journals. Many people told me I should save them. Why? To learn from the lessons that I failed to learn the first time around? Some of the entries while entertaining were not worth keeping around to have someone read when I'm gone. They were more embarrassing than it is riveting.
So one by one, I began tearing out the pages and throwing them away, laughing as I did. Reading the words I had written about things that really didn't matter. Writing about things like they were the ONLY things that mattered. In 2010, I noticed my entries finally began to really change. Instead of the angsty, unfulfilled entries of the past, I started making lists of goals. I wrote down inspiring lyrics and quotes. I started stories. I ended ones too. And then one day, I realized I hadn't posted an entry for about three weeks.
Instead I had started keeping a dream journal to record my dreams. I started writing for Examiner as a fashion and relationships writer. I began to build upon what I loved doing. I continued to work on freelance projects and found that I didn't want to use what I love to write about how SORRY I feel for myself - talk about a waste of time.
And yet, it wasn't.
Writing in those journals let me see what I was feeling without realizing it at the time. It allowed me to get my feelings out so that I could move on instead of holding them inside. It showed me a way to positively and productively focus my writing. And it confirmed that although that chapter of my writing life has ended, the story has just begun.