If I told you one of my best friends is a journal from 2009, you might think I’m a sad, lonely hermit. I have countless journals that live in a box in the basement, but this one – my blue journal – stays in my bedside drawer.
While I’ve intermittently kept a journal my whole life, it wasn’t until 15 years ago that I made it a consistent practice. My journal serves different purposes at different times. Sometimes it keeps secrets or helps breed new ideas, but usually it’s a safe space to store the chaos that gunks up my head. Most importantly, my journal is my companion. I’m rarely without it. It keeps me company like an old friend, and when I ask questions, it responds in its own way.
Ten years ago, I wanted to commemorate my 30th birthday with something bold and memorable, so I traveled to Europe for a couple weeks. I went alone but never felt alone. Between the daily cast of characters that came into my life and the companionship of my blue journal, I was in good company. I have nearly 100 pages of scribbles to prove it.
When I didn’t have anyone with whom to problem-solve my airport transportation dilemma in London, I processed it “out loud” with my journal. I had no one to tell about the night I danced through the streets of Paris with a handsome stranger. So I wrote about it. When I was tired and didn’t want a huge adventure, I cozied up in a dark pub with my journal.
The blue journal was brand new when I took it to Europe and when I returned home, it continued to have rich adventures. More than any other journal, this one has character. It has wrinkly, pink pages from the time it was a victim of a Gatorade/purse explosion. There are plane tickets and photos tucked inside. The cover is no longer attached. The back page has a quickly drawn map of the United States with a star near Minneapolis so I could explain to my new European friends where I traveled from. (That’s some pre-smart-phone era shit!)
More than any other journal, this one captured people who altered the course of my life and people who shattered it into what felt like irreparable pieces. It holds secrets no one knows. Of all my journals, it holds the heaviest weight.
If you keep a journal, you know these little books carry a huge burden. They’re subject to drunken rants, rambling brainstorms, fleeting crushes and scary confessions. It’s the net that catches the flittering thoughts that escape my brain as quickly as they enter.
If you keep a journal, you also understand these entries represent a snapshot in time. What I feel and write in that moment doesn’t necessarily represent my whole view. And the next day it can all change. More than once, my journal has been read by intruding eyes without my permission. While this is maddening on many levels, what’s most frustrating is that the words are taken out of context and open for misinterpretation.
But this is what I love most about journaling – capturing those situations that feel like a big deal at the time. The predicaments and heartaches. The obsessions and schemes. Once these things escape my head and hit the page, they either grow legs and keep moving, or simply wither away.
This is why I keep my blue journal so close to me. Most of the things that hit those pages grew legs. The realizations I had during and in the months following my Europe trip were pivotal. I came back with an appreciation for the endless possibilities ahead. I refocused my mindset and chose to experience life through this new lens. The remainder of my blue journal reflected this new way of being.
As I closed out the last days of my 20s, my blue journal was filled with sweeping statements detailing the vision I held for my 30s. This is particularly relevant right now as I close out my 30s and contemplate the foundation for my next decade. It’s been fun to look back at this vision. Let’s take a look at how things turned out…