I haven’t always kept a diary, in fact I only starting taking note of the day-to-day three years ago when I was living abroad and wanted to start documenting my time in a new and foreign land, which I knew had an expiration date.
I didn’t want to forget a single thing about my time living in Vancouver, and I felt that by recording each day I’d be able to hang onto those feelings for the rest of my life, and boy was I right. Diaries are an important part of anyone’s life and if you’re not keeping one, here’s why you should:
It’s just darn good practice at the end of the day. Whether it’s three pages or a singular sentence, you have to think about why you’re putting pen to paper and conduct accordingly on a regular basis. Everything you jot down is another step towards developing as a writer. Maybe you’re writing about a new word you’ve discovered or what you ate for dinner, by keeping a journal you can get as creative with it as you wish and push the boundaries of your writing ability, or just brush up on the basics and stay constantly in check.
I’ll admit here, I’m a lonely 20-something living in London, and boy is it a tough ol’ world out there, especially when nobody tells you anything as it is anymore; it’s all said through the keys of a message board or hidden in passive-aggressiveness, and this causes me some angst. By journaling, I’m able to jot down these feelings and visualise why it is I feel that way, getting conscious with my thoughts and thus developing my ability to let these feelings go. It’s important to move on and look forward…
…But it’s always important to look at where you’ve come from. I was recently looking through my journal from three years ago, and I couldn’t help but silently laugh at myself and my inability to write down basic words. Not only did my handwriting look like that of an infant, but my structure of sentences was atrocious too. I could also see how far I’ve come in terms of emotional intelligence, which always gives me that sense of achievement and fulfilment, as if I’m heading in the right direction rather than remaining stale.
Every now and then I’ll set myself some new goals to work towards. Looking back and ticking off those accomplishments is nothing short of completely rewarding, and by visualising my goals on paper I’m able to see the path I need to take to achieve them. Could there be better motivation?
Most importantly though…
When I’m eventually old and grey (if I make it that far!) I want to be able to look back and remember the good times and hardships that got me to where I am. I want to be able to sit down with my children and grandchildren and share stories of my past. I’d like to think that when I go, my family will have something to read and learn from in my journals. Life will be extremely different to what it is today by that point, and savouring the past is something we all long for. Journals do just that.
For me, diaries are the middle finger to this generation’s incessant need for instant gratification. They’re the savoured, sentimental slow-burner that will last a lifetime, which is something of a rarity in today’s society.