Keep a journal. It just might be the best book you will ever read. Call it a journal, notebook, diary, feelings-recorder, or whatever makes you happy. The important thing is that you keep one. For the sake of this article, I will refer to it as a diary.
Simply put, your diary is the book of your life. The story elements—plot, characters, conflicts, and themes—are real. This account of your goals and aspirations, whether those include becoming a CEO or marrying George Clooney (despite the fact that he’s married--dare to dream!), is important to understanding your own character development. A diary is a place to dump anything from innovative ideas to worries. It is constantly being written for you and only you to understand. And if it is the best book you will ever read, then that means you are your own favorite author and character!
People who are new to the habit of keeping a diary might see it as silly or immature. I get it. The whole sitting-down-to-write-about-your-feelings act may feel forced. You don't have to write every day, though, and you do not necessarily have to write more than a sentence or a few bullet points. The opportunity to look back at the different chapters of your life in this way is a real gift to yourself.
When I was a teenager, I threw away all of my elementary school diaries out of embarrassment for what I had written. Little did I know that preserving your childhood writings would turn into a movement. The conceptual phenomenon Mortified sheds light on how reflective and hilarious sharing the recorded moments of our younger years can be. There’s something special to be said about people who can not only laugh at themselves, but also be vulnerable enough to share their pasts with others.
Beyond being a memory keeper, a diary is also a source of release. Although it cannot physically console you or give you wise advice, the diary does allow you to learn how to filter your own thoughts. Rather than sub-tweeting or posting a vaguely emotional rant on social media, we can journal as a better way to sort out difficult emotions. Often, I find that my exaggerated or irrational feelings start to dissipate as I write. The only person who fully understands me is me.
My diary is meant to make me laugh when I need it to. It’s meant to remind me of my lows and highs. By virtue of keeping a diary, I feel as though I am adding value to my life’s experiences. They are worth sharing even if they are only meant to be shared with me, myself, and I.