The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be. ~ Shakti Gawain
Humans have written since the dawn of the written word, but even before that, experiences and knowledge were recorded on cave walls – we are wired to write.
I observe, I write.
Many would probably view this as a complete waste of time. Perhaps they’d even consider it to be a cheesy and somewhat pointless exercise. But this is one daily habit I’ve developed that I feel really works – in a way, writing everything down has helped me transform from that ‘victim’ I referred to the other day into someone rather strong and astutely mindful.
It might seem trivial. It’s such a small little thing, but for me, it’s helped boost both my self-esteem and self-worth. I write for many reasons. To disentangle my complex thoughts and ideas. I write to express myself. I write to learn. I write to feel fully alive once again…
I regard myself as highly sentimental. My parents’ garage is piled high with my boxes from my younger days. Dig around and you’ll find box upon box of dusty high school photographs, letters, diaries and books. I love looking back through these things. I’m sure my mum’s hoping that next time I go home, I’m going to do a cull, but the truth is, every time I touch them, I look back with fond memories, such reminiscing brings me great joy. Perhaps it’s this sense of sentimentality that draws me to journaling so much.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I have so many goals – some minute, some massive . I know many people around my age who also have X-amount of goals…marriage, kids, house, career, money…this seems to be the standard!
These are all well and good, however when we place so much emphasis on setting these said goals and achieving them to the highest possible levels and then fail to meet our own exceptionally high standards, we beat ourselves up until we’re metaphorically black and blue.
We are (well I am) far too hard on ourselves!
Over the years, I’ve always (and I mean always) set very high goals for myself. It wasn’t that I had to prove anything to anyone – my family and friends have supported me no matter what – I had to prove it to myself. I had to show myself that I am really capable of doing and achieving my very best. At times, it left me feeling empty, like I hadn’t achieved enough or at all.
My ambitious mindset can be viewed in two lights – it has its positives, but boy does it also have its drawbacks.
I think having high ambitions is a wonderful thing. This is what I try to instil in my students at school on a daily basis. This is what I’ll also instil in my own children when I have them. I’m proud that I’m ambitious…it’s what gives me drive and motivation.
But at the same time, I’m also very susceptible to burnout. This burnout in the past has made me sick. I found myself having to reflect more on those things I’d achieved to muster up that necessary confidence to continue.
I’ve begun to practise a lot more self-care. I’ve taken up meditating in the form of yoga, but what I’ve discovered is that no matter how much I practise these self-care techniques, there’s always going to be a day or a week that I find disappointing or dissatisfying.
My ambiguous relationships, job insecurity, lack of free time, coursework…these are a few of the things that are weighing on my mind at present.
I have to suck it up, so I write.
These things are evident for a reason – to teach me lessons.
Every person has areas of their lives that they’re not 100% passionate about. However, life would be somewhat boring without the drama.
What I did learn is this: those things that I’m not satisfied with or passionate about at present can teach me things. Without even realising it, I’ve been learning this whole time – those everyday (sometimes painful) experiences are my teachers.
As soon as I began writing everything down, I began to discover the little wins.
These lessons, or little wins as I like to refer to them, can be big or small.
‘Don’t call for a taxi at 8am, it’ll take forever to come and you’ll subsequently be late for work. Book the day before.’ ‘Refrain from telling a person how you feel if you know you’re going to be met with the complete opposite…it leads to unnecessary embarrassment and stress.’ ‘If someone doesn’t have time for you, screw them, let go and move on.’ ‘Kale can be delicious…who would’ve thought? Try making your own grilled kale with olive oil’. ‘Botanics skincare creams have amazing effects, and the price is just as great. Time to say adios to spending hundreds on Clinique products and opting for organic skincare products for less – win!’
The above are just a few things that can be found in my personal book of musings. They pale in significance to some of the bigger lessons that are in there, but no matter how tiny they are, there’s always something to learn, and yes, the saying you learn something new every day really is true!
‘I’m thankful X made me feel special even if it was just for a fleeting moment’. ‘I’m grateful for my central heating that works…it’s so wet and cold out.’ ‘I’m thankful for people who text me out of the blue to check up on how I’m doing’. ‘I’m so happy that I’ve finally let go and ready to love again’. ‘Today I’m thankful for my grandmother. She was a formidable woman who didn’t take shit from anyone, but at the same time, she never lost her sense of humour. She taught me how to be a strong and courageous woman in the modern world’.
On top of that, you’ll also find new words. Despite being an English teacher, I don’t know every single word in the dictionary, no one does…but I love words, I love how they fit together to form sentences and paragraphs. This combined with my thirst for knowledge also leads me to write them down, to expand my own vocabulary, and once again push those mental boundaries. It’s stimulating.
I love going back and reading over these things. There are so many takeaways to be had. It proves to me that I really am making progress every day. Unwittingly, I’ve removed those self-imposed pressures that were once weighing me down.
My journaling experiences have helped me delve deep within. I’ve learnt things about myself I never knew. It’s been the ultimate interior voyage – I’ve been able to fill my pages with the true breathings of my heart, and I’ve learnt how to take action and pay attention to those things that once seemed so miniscule.
I am an explorer in more ways than one. It’s my personal mission to observe and document my world and the world around me as I’ve never seen it before through fresh and eager eyes. I take notes, I collect things and I document my findings. I notice patterns. I copy. I trace. I try to focus on one thing at a time. But most of all I record and write about the things, people and experiences I’m drawn to.
Maybe a few years from now I’ll read back over my journal and laugh. I might even cry. Maybe I’ll see one of those problems that I’d once assumed to be inextricable that I was eventually able to easily evade. Maybe I’ll look back over my journal and learn even more things about myself…
Through my own writing, I too am participating in a long history of documenting. It’s about that human experience – it’s about discovering it, documenting it and learning from it. I have an innate sense of curiosity and drive, just as da Vinci and Twain had – what I write matters – my experiences matter, as do yours!