The Not-So Secret Life Of Me - 10.19.98|
Exactly one month ago, I did something that I'd been wanting to do for a long time; I started a journal. Never before in my life had I kept one, and I'm not exactly sure why I chose to start a month ago, but looking back over the course of 30 days entries, there are several things that strike me as interesting.
The first interesting thing that I noticed was specifically about the wording and detail of what I had written. In the beginning, my entries were more short and to the point, giving mundane details about my life, such as when I got up and went to work and listing out some of the routine things that went on in my everyday life. I also seemed to be very careful about what I said and didn't really write down much reflection.
As the days progressed, the journal writing gets a lot more loose. I started mentioning more little things that happened to me during the day, and especially more of what I was thinking. They got more emotional as well. I wrote down feelings that I was having about people, as well as things that had gone on during the day. Although they didn't increase in length by that much, they started giving a lot more detail about me as a person, instead of the robotic functions that I go through in a days time (ie, getting up, eating breakfast, going to work).
The main reason behind all this is that when I first began the journal, I still felt like I was writing for an audience. Since I had never kept a journal before, and because most of the writing I have done over the past 23 years has been for an audience (school papers, newspaper articles) I simply carried that style over into it. It took me awhile for the notion to sink in that the only person I was writing the journal for was myself, and that nobody would probably ever end up reading it anyway.
With those thoughts out of the way, the journal becomes quite a medium for personal reflection. Once I got it out of my head that everything only needed to make sense to me, the journal took on the personal feel and content that I started writing it down for in the first place. Sure, I use bad grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but every entry I've looked back at has made complete sense to me, even though another reader might find it confusing. The only worry I have is that if I died and certain people read my journal, they might take things the wrong way. It's not that I'm a malicious person, or even two-faced towards anyone, but I've gotten to a point where I mention insecurities that I have, as well as things that may bother me about others that I know. While I wouldn't have any problems saying these statements to the person in question, it may cause some odd feelings if someone were to read what I had written without any explanation on my part.
The reference quality of the journal is probably why I started writing things down for in the first place. One thing that made me upset was when I used to forget what happened on a particular day, or even worse, forget nice things that had happened to me, just because other pressing matters had made me forget about them. It's become sort of a chronicle of occurrences (although some of them are admittingly boring when I look them over again) would usually be forgotten after a few days, but are nice to have written down somewhere.
While the "looking back" quality of a journal is very nice, I've also found that the actual process of sitting down and writing with a pen on the page is very relaxing. I've gotten into the habit of writing for at least 10 minutes every night (usually just before bed) and spilling my thoughts down on the page in ink is a good cap on a day. Even the tactual feeling of thumbing back through the pages (even though it's not as environmentally sound as writing a journal on my computer) is one that I enjoy immensely, knowing that there are that many more thoughts and occurrences that are less likely to be forgotten any time soon (and can be referenced easily at any point in the future).
In closing, the journal has become sort of a habit for me. There have been some nights where I've completely forgotten about writing, but it's usually because I've simply been too tired to continue sitting up for even 15 minutes longer pondering my day. Even when this happens, though, I've picked up the slack the next day and written down as much as I can remember. While I doubt that I'll ever go online with it, I'm sure it will provide the occassional inspiration for a piece of writing on the site. Besides, nobody would care to read about my boring life anyway.