Why I started journalling: The impact of my blog on personal reflection

Journalling is not really new to me. I wrote in a diary long before I started blogging (and I have been blogging since 2002). It’s strange to think how writing personal thoughts in a notebook has changed. When I was growing up, there was a stigma around it, namely that it was mostly for girls. Now, even the world’s biggest thought leaders and social media influencers swear by it changing their life and other such things that may or may not constitute some sort of hyperbolic cure to life’s problems.

When I was a teenager, keeping a journal was like having a friend. Writing on my blog was like extending my stories and sharing my world with other people in the world – like having more friends. I didn’t care who stopped by to read my work, but I told my friends about it. To this day, I don’t pay a lot of attention to how many people read my blog, but I notice and appreciate when people do. Having comments on my blog has always been a way of seeing people communicate their thoughts to me as well, but I’ve had thoughts sent to me on social media as well. I definitely don’t mind people lurking and reading and some of them never having any direct contact with me. It has always been an uplifting feeling knowing that even a few people read these words and enjoy them, find them relatable, or just took the time to read something new because they clicked it because it seemed interesting.

My best friend and I read each other’s journals in the past, and there was some crossover between me starting a blog and me writing in a journal. At some point I stopped journalling. I was really personal on my blog in years gone by – personal to a degree that I probably wouldn’t be comfortable with now. There were finer details about my family, and a lot about my experience with depression. I wouldn’t be comfortable being as personal as I was in the past, because of two main things:

  1. My thoughts don’t just revolve around myself, they revolve around other people.
  2. I’ve realised that it is important to have a division between what is OK to be public and what is probably better private.

The first point is an easy one to discuss: as mentioned in my blogging values – which haven’t changed since I decided to write them in 2016 – I have respect when writing about people and interacting with people when it comes to my blog. The things I write about people – including myself – in the public space of my blog, should come with respect. We can’t deny that we have more personal, even arbitrary, thoughts about ourselves and other people. Although my blog is an honest space, honest doesn’t mean all of these personal thoughts should be on my blog.

The way my blog has grown has been a valuable journey, but it has also been one where I’ve felt stuck, particularly when I feel like there are missing pieces or things that felt important to me but that I didn’t publicise. My blog has changed over time. It has become a little more curated, and I spend a little more time writing blog posts and focusing on their quality. In the past, I didn’t care too much about quality, and many of my blog posts were just streams of consciousness. It very much became a public journal.

I have advocated time and time again to tell your story through blogging; through various talks I’ve done. I’ve even completed theses at university based on blogging as a tool for self-reflection. I know that my blog is still a viable tool for self-reflection. I will still continue to tell my story through blogging. But there are things that aren’t part of the story – they are just part of the person behind it. I started a journal again because I felt that I needed a place to gather my own, personal, scattered thoughts that don’t have a place on a public blog.

I have strived so hard to make my blog a part of myself. And it is – it really is. But somewhere along the way – through writing with every effort, through documenting all the bits and pieces, through discussing my personal thoughts, through trying to make it this undeniable, accurate representation of myself and my journey – I kind of lost my sense of self. I was so fixated on trying to retell my story that I wasn’t able to be introspective unless I was having a deep chat with a close friend. Although I used my blog as a reference point for some of my thoughts, it got to the point where I wasn’t even sure if they felt real. It felt like I had written some of my blog posts on autopilot without actually thinking about them or being introspective at all.

I think it is important for one to have moments of introspection that facilitate self-awareness and growth. Some people get this through other methods, but I feel like I get it through journalling. I have found the process to be quite meditative and therapeutic. When I first started journalling again a month ago, I was writing in it every day. I had a lot of scattered thoughts. Some of them were repeated, over and over again. I noticed myself writing about the same frustrations day after day, until the frustrations subsided. I noticed that I mostly wrote in my journal when I wasn’t in a good mood. These days, I write in my journal every two to three days. At times, I’ve felt like I had to give some kind of update in it, like it was a friend that had to give the latest gossip.

I haven’t really read back deeply on anything I’ve written. I just haven’t felt like I need to, but I imagine it would be useful to notice feelings and behaviours for a couple of my medical conditions, and for noticing patterns in my moods and emotions in general.

I have no significant plans for my journal, such as how often to write in it, or how much – none of that. Some days, I forget that I even have it. I just write in it knowing that there is no judgment, no pressure, no one but myself. I don’t think it is a magic cure for anything. Journalling hasn’t changed my life. It’s just a tool.

Thank you so much for reading this blog post. 💙 Thank you especially to anyone who has been reading for a few months, years, or even the past decade. This blog post is but another chapter in my story.

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