You probably already know that I love writing. I’ve been writing on this blog for several months, using one of my favorite things in the world to show others that they’re not alone. I’ve been writing in general since I was little, writing my first fanfiction when I was six and my first novel when I was eight. Both were generally terrible, but it makes my point: writing has always been part of my life in one form or another, and probably always will be.
But for me, writing is more than just an art form. It’s how I process life. Inside my head, my thoughts get tangled up like a ball of yarn the cat’s played with a bit too long. But when I write down my thoughts, they detangle and form some semblance of order. Writing lets me figure out what I think rather than trying to decipher my thoughts through the mess of voices and arguments my mind provides me with.
Really, it’s no wonder I’ve turned to journaling. Sometimes it’s on my phone, other times on the computer, and other times in a proper journal. The lattermost is my favorite by far, with the way it lets me see just how much I’ve written. I’ve completed three journals so far, though it might have been more if it weren’t for spells of writing on my phone or computer. And recently, as I started my fourth one, I realized something: Each of my journals characterizes a particular season of my life.
So please, dear reader, bear with me in my ramblings about my life and its various journals and phases. I hope I don’t bore you. I hope you find something of yourself in the chapters I describe. Hope that maybe I’m not the only one that spends an enormous amount of time contemplating the chapters of my life. Hope you and I might find some common thread between our two lives, and celebrate the differences. Hope that we can, on some level, be friends.
My first journal was a soft pink one, given to me in one of those Secret-Santa-type gift exchanges churches sometimes have. It’s bound in supple pink leather, with flowering branches wrapping around the front cover and the word “dream” marked into it. I’ve always loved the way it felt in my hands. But the thing I love it for the most is all the memories stored in it. The good times with all the friends I had then. The first (and only) love note I ever received. April 27, 2014. The news of our moving. The beginning of my falling apart. My last teen camp with my friends from where I then lived. Intensely beautiful times with my Lord. So, so many goodbyes. And finally, the move itself.
That first journal, that pretty little pink one, was not an easy journal to live through, filled as it was with sharp bouts of pain over the move, but it was good nonetheless. There were many, many good times contained within it as well. So much contentment, so much genuine joy and happiness. It was a mixture of both, a truly beautiful time in my life.
In a way, it was fitting that it was my first completed journal. Not just because it was the one where my life was flipped upside down and I broke apart, but because if it hadn’t been for the breaking apart that occurred within it, I could not have been put back together in the way I was. As much pain as the breaking caused, it was worth it. Because when I broke apart, I started on a new journey, one that began to bring me to where I am today.
The next journal was black, imprinted with white roses, and bore the words, “With Faith All Things Are Possible.” My mom gave it to me when I arrived in our apartment. She had carefully turned my room into a haven for me, bright with the rusty orange-reds I loved, sharply accented with blacks and whites. Sitting on a table next to my new betta was the black journal.
As much as I loved that journal at first, loved her thoughtfulness in giving it to me, its content swiftly made it my least favorite journal. Where the previous journal had been filled sharp, swift bouts of joy and pain, this one was filled to the brim with the dull, prolonged ache of insecurity and guilt. When I was dropped in my new church, it was like I’d forgotten how to interact with people as naturally as I used to. Something in me would start to panic, and it would be all I could do to not break down in front of them. All I could think about was everything I didn’t like about myself, the things I felt guilty about. How I didn’t journal enough. How I didn’t read enough. How I took so long on schoolwork. How easily I got distracted. How I looked. The list went on and on and on, and the journal was soon filled with the misery I created for myself.
I only escaped from that pain when I was nearly done with that journal, when I learned how to give my insecurities over to my Lord, let Him hold me and heal my wounds. I began to learn how to breathe again, began to shed the insecurities that bound me so tightly. Just as I began this process, I finished the black journal and moved on to a cream one with pink and blue owls stitched onto the front. It took me almost two years to complete that journal, and I ended it just recently by beginning to write my post, “Screaming” in it. Thankfully, the entire thing wasn’t characterized by such dark thoughts. Rather, I can boil it, overall, down to three things: healing, apathy, and preparation.
The past two years were a time of healing from the pain of the black journal. I rested emotionally, spiritually, learned to enjoy life again. My insecurities gradually slid away and I learned to breathe in their absence. With them gone, I began to recover my social skills, something I’m still doing to this day, though I’m much improved. Every so often, someone will comment on how much more sociable I am now than I used to be, and it makes me smile, because I know I’m more sociable because the healing that needed to happen, did.
A downside to that time of healing, though, is that it also became a time of apathy. As I rested, I let the important things slide more than I should, mainly my time with my Lord. It was still there… sort of. It was more routine than out of truly wanting to do it, and it wasn’t okay. For me, my time with Him is so very important. He’s my life, the One that got me through the move and the barrage of insecurities. I let other things take precedence over Him, like school and writing. And along with that apathy towards Him came an apathy towards others. Before the move, there was always someone whose life I was actively pouring into, trying to help them get through life. But that was largely absent during those two years, and the love I’d usually pour into people I poured into characters instead, wasting my time on things that ultimately didn’t matter that much.
I tried breaking out of that apathy several times, the most notable time being when I decided to stop working on my novel and try to write a devotional instead. It was very sporadic and poorly thought out, and fell flat on its face within a few days. I went for months without really working on anything, wasting still more time. Meanwhile, I read a series that impressed on me just how precious my time truly is and how I needed to do something to make a difference.
Except… Despite my apathy, that time wasn’t a complete waste. Because, even though I wasn’t actively working towards something, it didn’t mean there wasn’t a preparation happening that I was completely unaware of.
You see, over those two years, certain things started to click into place. When my social skills turned up missing, I turned to the internet to find new friends, even though I didn’t realize what I was doing. I began to make friends who were fellow teenage writers, and I found myself in more and more writing groups. One that I joined was so large that I really didn’t think I had much chance of meeting and developing friendships in it, so I didn’t spend that much time following the posts there. Many months after joining, though, I stumbled upon a post from a girl who wanted to create a group for writers where they could talk about anything, not just writing. I joined on a whim, and was sporadic in my activity there, but still managed to make some friends. As it turned out, many of those people I would come to know much better as they joined me right here, on this blog.
In the middle of those two years of my owl journal, I couldn’t see everything that was lining up to bring me to where I am today. If I could have, things might well have been different. I might have been comforted that something big was coming, but it might also have given me an excuse to slip into further apathy. Or it might have moved me to work harder and break out of it sooner. I’ll never know, of course, but I do still wonder. Even though those two years weren’t the most productive in terms of personal growth, I am still very thankful for them. Without the healing and the preparation, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Where I am is beautiful, and I live knowing that I am in another season of my life, constantly moving towards another one.
I am in the season marked by my blue journal.
It reminds me in many ways of my first pink journal. When I hold it in my hands, it has the same supple give, the same smooth, relaxing finish. Only, instead of bearing a flowery tree branch and the word “dream,” it bears a simple geometric design running down the edge of the cover near the spine. Rather than cobalt or sky blue, it’s a deep, dusky blue. A peaceful blue, like the blue of the sky just before dawn or after dusk.
This difference in color between my blue journal and my pink one speaks to me about how far I’ve come. I’m no longer the perpetually bubbly, vibrant girl I used to be. The black and owl journals made sure of that. My struggle with insecurity and apathy are far from finished. Every so often the former will spring up and attack, and more often than not, the latter lures me back to my comfort zone. Nonetheless, as I step into my blue journal, I find myself a young woman on the eve of so very much. As I look forward to the unwritten pages of my blue journal, I hold high hopes for my growth. I look forward to becoming more and more the woman I was made to be.
Finally, dear reader, no matter what season of your life you are in, please know that you can make it. Pain, so much pain, will come, but it’s not the end dear one. There is still love and hope and peace to be found. Just hold on, dear one. You are not alone. Please don’t give up. And please, please, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.