I wanted to share with you guys the reasons behind why I write diaries. It is a pastime which has always helped me in the way I think, self-reflect, block out negativity and maintain a positive outlook on life. I hope that by the end of this post I can also convince you to start writing your own diaries.
From a very young age I have always been keeping random journals and scrapbooks, but it was from the age of eleven that I decided to religiously start writing diaries. I would buy a big new journal for each year and would fill it with everything from poems written at 3am to train tickets and random flower petals pressed between pages. Back then I did it because it was fun (and because social media was a myth), but now looking back, I didn’t realise that I was creating a timeline of how I matured and grew up. Reading through my old diaries now, I can see how my views developed, how my style of writing changed, alongside random little life events which I otherwise would never have remembered today. Since realising this, I have made it my aim to continue writing diaries, to document as many significant and insignificant personal thoughts and random train tickets to random places as I can.
And I want to encourage you to do the same. Why?
1. You will get to know yourself better
Writing has always been seen as a classic form of self-expression. From eloquent poetry to random scribbles and drawings, it’s fascinating how a simple pen and some time can paint a picture of your deepest thoughts. Keeping a diary is one of the best forms of self-expression because you can be completely honest with yourself, there is no pressure to censor your thoughts when you are writing for yourself.
When trying to explain this point to friends, I like to use social media as an example. Social media is great, but in essence, when you are updating a status or posting a tweet, you are doing it for other people to interact with and for other people to validate. But when writing a diary, you are doing it for yourself to read and look back on, it is a form of self validation. Trust me when I say you will be surprised at the things you write when you put yourself in an environment completely free from societal views and pressures. You will discover views you never knew you had, causes you never knew you cared about and things you never knew you loved.
There is no better way to understand and to know yourself than by allowing yourself the time and space to question and give space to the views you really hold. Socrates’s famous adage to ‘know thyself’ springs to mind here; this form of self-reflection paves the road to long-established wisdom.
2. It’s incredibly therapeutic
Sort of related to the first point, when writing a diary you have the opportunity to jot down absolutely anything pressing your mind. It’s a way to give a voice to whatever you are keeping suppressed inside you. People let out their anger and stress in different ways, I prefer to ‘make’ something out of any negativity I am feeling, the end result being something I can look back on learn from (a positive). Developing this type of emotional intimacy where you can convert negativity into a form of positivity is incredibly useful when you’re facing hard choices and want to make the best decisions.
Writing diaries is a way to control the intensity of your emotions because when writing, you are reducing activity in a part of your brain called amygdala (responsible for memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions). As a result, you will feel calmer, happier, and ultimately more content.
3. Something to look back on
We take pictures to remember memories for the future, similarly, we write poetry to capture our deepest thoughts and put together collages to collect our musings and aesthetics at the time. It is impossible for us to recreate a picture taken in the moment, just as it is impossible for us to fully experience again the emotions we were feeling at a particular moment, in a particular frame of mind.
When you start writing a diary, you will eventually build up a catalogue of all the things you would otherwise eventually forget. It is a pretty incredible feeling to be able to look back on something you wrote a few years ago, or even a few weeks ago, and to think ‘I can’t believe I went through that!’. It’s a good feeling, it encourages you to keep going through whatever you are going through, and it helps you to appreciate the little details in life that otherwise go unnoticed.
Thank you for reading this post, I hope it has been useful!