Discovering self by journaling

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At the beginning of the notebook where I found the details of the sensory walk, I saw that I purposefully sought out to renew my journaling efforts as a way of learning more about myself. It was an effort for record, accountability and self-discovery. I had gotten away from this practice and my creative writing especially during my senior year of college because of my student teaching responsibilities.

Once again, I believe I was following advice from a book about writing. This book was mostly about generating ideas for fiction writing, but there were some exercises for connecting with yourself: looking at your past, the highs, the lows, the achievements. Since most of the time you begin to write with what you know, these exercises are valuable.

From the 2007 journal:

Dear Lindsay,

You are at Griffith Park today, resting in the sunlight, feeling carefree. What do you hope to gain out of journal writing? A sense of peace. A chance to express myself. A vehicle for speaking my mind and deepening my understanding of who I am. I want a better knowledge of myself and God working in my life. To see those changes taking place. My understanding of self will probably take place through accounts of what happened each day. Then periodically, I need to read through the entries to see where I have come — what has developed. To identify those things which I am accomplishing which I previously never thought I could. By the grace of God am I here. Only by His grace and His will.

Am I meant to have a family of my own — to get married? I see this cute Hispanic couple playing catch with their little boy and their infant resting in a car seat. They have so much life in them, peace of mind, and carefree. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. Laughter. Am I called to marriage? The more I think about it, the more I get the feeling the answer is no. Is it my temperament? I feel way too emotional and unstable at times. I don’t think it would be healthy for me to be in a relationship like that. I have a hard time opening up to people.

Then there’s a word map. At the center is “My perfect journal” and then the main branches include:

  • No hindrance with the spiral (I’m left-handed)
  • Endless pages
  • Open to my thoughts/no restraints
  • Colorful
  • Spring
  • Blue with sunset

I have no idea where those last two categories came from. Perhaps getting poetic with the idea of spring representing “new life.” Anyway, those were the main areas and then there were multiple connections from there.

The next entry was a letter of sorts to my perfect journal.

Dear Journal-to-be

I want to share some moments from my past because I want you to help me uncover their meaning. Together we can make sense of various encounters, disappointments, closed doors, puzzled looks, advancements, accomplishments, opportunities, experiences, and dreams. I want to dig deeper and reconnect to my creativity. I think I lost some of that over the years. I want to be playful and wistful and innocent, but I am often afraid of what will happen — what others will think — how I come across. But you, journal, are here to make me feel welcome. To listen and observe like I do, but hopefully to help me connect some dots.

I want a perfect journal, but I know there’s no such thing as a perfect anything. I need to strive toward stability and balancing of emotions. Balancing everything. Try not to let my moods take over. I need to be in more control of my emotions. I decide how I feel. I can make up my mind one way or another. I want to go back to those innocent days where I would climb on Mom and Dad’s bed and just talk with Mom. She would be reading in her recliner and I would come in and lie down. The mattress was so comfortable that I didn’t want to move. That created an environment where I knew I was safe and loved. I would share something that was on my mind. And Mom would listen. Somebody else would do the listening. Somebody else would offer advice. I need that from time to time. I act like I’m fine usually, but yeah, I need a lot of reassurance and encouragement. I can’t handle too much criticism.

This next part reminds me of a scene from The Gilmore Girls where Rory gets upset because someone else took her study tree. I believe this was an exercise in describing your writing environment.

I name you my tree to sit under.
You may not have enough leaves on your branches
To completely shade me from the sun
Your bark isn’t the smoothest
There are bumps and rough patches where my back rests
But the ground is soft around your base
I don’t to compete against the roots for a comfortable spot
And you provide me with the opportunity to open myself up
And pour out my fears and uncertainties.

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