06 October, 2011

Why everyone should keep a journal

Last night, I spent almost two hours rereading journal entries from 2008. I'm speaking of a "diary" that happens to be online, as opposed to this blog. From time to time, I go back and start rereading what I've written. And it's never easy to be reminded of where I was before. I don't often write about fluffy topics in the journal. It usually is about self-exploration, or venting the struggles I'm having with various situations happening in my life.

The hardest thing for me is when I see huge sections of my emotional history that have repeated themselves. I can find a page from 2008 that could just as easily be written today. New situation, different year, different people involved, but the same me. And, consequently, the same struggles and same questions. Sometimes, reading those excerpts leads me to question whether I'm growing at all. Am I truly repeating the exact same mistakes as I was three years ago? But there's a tendency to latch on to the negatives, the similarities in plight, without recognizing the small, but significant differences.

In 2008, I had written a little "vision statement" for where I wanted to see myself heading in the future. It was originally intended for this blog, but I'd moved it to the journal instead, because I was worried it would be a little too sensitive for people who may have felt "involved" in the birth of that vision. I think enough time has passed that I can post it here:

There are ways in which I wish I were more capable.

I wish I had the discipline and motivation to drive my career toward productive ends.
I wish I had the wisdom and restraint to not engage in commitments that I cannot keep.
I wish I could be a hero.
I wish I would realize that being a hero is a commitment I cannot keep.
I wish I could decide to focus on exercise, and it would last longer than a week.
I wish I could learn to keep promises to myself.
I wish I would never cause anyone pain ever again, myself included.
I wish I would set for myself more realistic wishes.

When I look at this now, I realize that I've grown a lot more than I thought. Certainly, I experience many of the same feelings and fears as I did three years ago. And certainly I have made some of the same mistakes. But when I look at the list above, I realize that, by and large, I have achieved every one of these goals. But the unrealistic wishes that I had then, to some extent, still persist as an Achilles' heel for me. I still battle with wanting to be a hero. I still labor over the fear of being hurt, or hurting, in such fashion so as to render me rather risk-averse.

It's a good thing to see that I set these goals for myself three years ago. Going back and reading it in a journal is a helpful way to realize who I was, who I am, what's changed. And it serves as a reminder of the direction I've set for myself. Definitely something I would recommend to everyone.

I've got a ways to go. But it's getting better.

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