The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

My experience with keeping a journal in 8th grade... And how it kept me afloat.

The+Benefits+of+Keeping+a+Journal

You know those movies or books where there’s a character that keeps a diary or a journal? Like The Princess Diaries or Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Well, after I went through some tough situations last year, I kept one as well.

Reading a book in the style of a diary versus actually keeping one are two very different things, though. Some days your log is five pages long and others, it’s a sentence or two.  Sometimes, my entries into the almanac of my life were just notes for a class because I didn’t have my notebook or any lined paper.

Thinking clearly is the most important thing a student can do, especially in middle or high school. It is the difference between a passing or failing grade, your attitude toward your day, and how you treat the people around you. ”

— SaraBeth Wester

Along with the fact that characters in movies are pretty much the only place you see people keeping a journal, there are some concerns that arise when it comes to journal-keeping. “How could keeping a diary help me? What if someone took my notebook? Read my personal thoughts and spread them around the world? What would happen then?”

Well, fortunately for me, no one did and actually, no one really questioned me writing in my journal, even in school. Most teachers didn’t care and would leave me alone if I was quick about it. And people respected my property– they didn’t take my stuff or read over my shoulder.

Like most, I was originally against the idea of journaling when it was suggested to me. I thought that the idea of writing in the journal was cheesy and silly, but once I started, I learned that it was more helpful than people think at first glance.

For almost half of last year, I dated a page and wrote down what happened almost every day. Not only to help me remember and keep a record of what was going on in my life, but to say how I felt, to explore how I felt.

With such a large amount of pent up emotions, I didn’t totally want to bring up what had happened when I was going through a tough time.  Nor did I have someone I wanted to bring the drama of my life to.  But keeping the matters to myself wasn’t easy either.

My ledger, like my room, was my safe space. I could write what I felt to express myself and not feel like I was being judged; it helped me get stuff off my chest to think clearly about the instances of social drama (my friend group was ripping apart), my dyslexia, my now confirmed ADHD, and missing assignments that piled to the ceiling.

This ability to open up in a written fashion was especially helpful.

As helpful as my journal was in navigating a whirlwind of emotions, sometimes it wasn’t enough. I ended up talking to a counselor, too, to make sure I knew how to handle the situations.

So, with the journaling, and the help I was getting, I could finally think clearly, which is the most important thing a student can do, especially in middle or high school. It is the difference between a passing or failing grade, your attitude toward your day, and how you treat the people around you.

This journal or diary, whatever you choose to call it, is a part of yourself. It becomes a friend you trust with all your secrets, but it is also a safe place where you can hide when you are hurt, and where you write your ideas and your dreams.

Maybe next time you get in a fight with a friend, or you have a tough day, write it down. Express yourself. At the end of the day, when you come off the open ocean and dock yourself at home, what do you need? Do you need a friend? A safe place? Pick up a notebook and write.

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