A pen and paper (which also sometimes translates to my hands and my keyboard) are like a saving grace in my life. I crave the release of my thoughts and emotions after busy days, tough days, and even joyful days. When I began taking writing more frequently, when I started blogging almost 5 years ago, I discovered so. so. so much about myself, about others, and about life in general. Maybe that sounds cheesy or even hard to believe, but every ounce of it is true. To this day, I still journal - whether I actually physically write in my journal or I just type in a blank document on my computer - almost every single day, and I have shelves stacked with worn-out and written-in journals, and files full of word documents and drafts.
I’m not perfect, though - sometimes I lose focus and let life disorganize my priorities, which happened during the last couple of months. In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to take the time to sit down and write, to just release everything from my brain for even just a moment, but of course my to-do list - pack, move, study, graduate, find a job, work, organize, etc. - convinced me that it was most important. And as life sometimes does, it just kept building. I kept scheduling events, working longer hours, saying yes to things I’d rather have said no, and trying to convince myself that I was fine. That I didn’t need to write.
Finally, one night in Minnesota, the night before my grandpa passed, I was the only one awake and had absolutely nothing else to do. Finally, I wrote, and I cannot tell you how amazing it felt. I cried (tears fell on my keyboard and I thought I might break my computer just by crying) and cried and cried - the situation at the time was highly emotional, but also, just the release of thoughts and emotions felt incredible. And for the first time in months, I felt connected to myself. After that trip, and after some heart-breaking news, I came back to California and cried again. This time I was on my own couch in my apartment and I was alone, so I cried even harder. I didn’t know what to do. I felt the weight of the world, or at least my excruciatingly heavy world at the time, on my chest. Grace came home and comforted me, and as I sobbed to her about feeling disconnected from myself again, she asked when was the last time I journaled. She knew exactly what I needed. That night, I wrote almost 12 pages in my journal and with each page, I felt a little better. More like me, even in some of the most challenging life circumstances.
All of that is to say that writing is one of my ultimate priorities - just like movement and intuitive eating and alone time. I don’t write just to post on this blog or to fill pages of cute colorful journals. I write to hear myself think. I write to let myself word-vomit and then clean it up. I write to exhale after inhaling all day. I write to put life into perspective. I write to remember.
I write to learn more about who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming.
Here are some of the prompts I created for myself in those terrifying oh-my-word-what-is-happening moments.
What are some things (activities, people, passions, etc.) that bring me joy? (don’t hold back - I listed everything from laughing to watching the sunset to drinking coffee.)
What are some things (activities, people, passions, etc.) that make me feel confident? (this one was interesting - I looked back on it and realized none of the things I listed had to do with eating or exercising a certain amount, or fitting into a certain size jeans.)
How can I practice gratitude more often throughout each day and week? (I think a lot of this one has to do with just slowing down and taking a deeeeeep breath.)
What are my intentions for today? (I write three each morning and then reflect on how I lived those out, or maybe didn’t and why, that day.)
What are some learning opportunities from today? (these tie into the reflections from above).
What am I looking forward to today? (list as many things as possible!)
How can I take care of myself right now? (I like the idea of toolboxes - I’ll think of a handful of things that make me feel better, more confident, more secure, etc. and use those in times of stress, loneliness, or just “bleh” days)
What are some qualities I want to develop/foster? (I thought of things like patience, vulnerability, and self-compassion.)
I hope this inspires you to pick up a pen and paper sometime soon. And I hope you never feel like your writing needs to be “perfect” - just like we don’t know what the perfect human looks/sounds/acts like, we don’t know what perfect writing (journaling, especially) is. All it needs to be is YOU. If that requires peace and quiet, find that space. If it requires 10 minutes or an hour of your day, make that time. Not only is writing worth it, but so are you.
Take care, friends!