I have been writing weekly for over two years and it never ceases to amaze me when people commend my writings especially when they talk about how it resonates with them and specifically, how I phrase my words and sentences.
The reason for my wonder is simple. I never for once in my wildest dreams thought that I could write. I have always loved reading, I have a large library and my books are part of my most cherished possessions. I am told I was reading newspapers at three years old and till date I read voraciously and have at least three books I am reading simultaneously. The smell of books give me a turn on of some sorts whenever I enter a bookshop and I have learnt not to enter one if I don’t have much money because I would always come out with at least one book, which I just must buy.
However, for a long time I actually thought I hated writing and I would have laughed in disbelief if someone had told me that someday I would write on a weekly basis.
Looking back, I think the reason I hated writing was the effort it took to organise my thoughts and ideas and write them down on paper. Also, I thought I had to use big grammer, high sounding words, phrases and expressions to pass my ideas across and till date I don’t enjoy reading books that I have to continually refer to a dictionary to understand the words being used (psst don’t tell Prof Wole Soyinka ooo).
People who read my writings and know of my love for books automatically think I had started by scribbling down my ideas in journals but it is not so. My very first success at keeping a diary/journal after several failed attempts was in 1992 when I made it a resolution for that year and I followed through by making entries on a daily basis in my diary for at least nine months of the year, writing in detail how my day went and the attendant feelings and emotions I felt throughout the day.
After 1992, I wrote intermittently in several journals but unlike my diary of 1992 I wrote mainly when I felt the need to record how I felt at that particular moment or when I got some new insight into my life that I didn’t want to lose sight of.
Fast forward to 2021, I recently moved house and as I was going through stuff looking for what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to throw away, I came across that old diary and the several journals I had scribbled on. A quick look through became an adventure to the past as I reawakened memories of yesteryears, discovered thought patterns and expectations that I still had, traced experiences that helped form and shape my perspective to life and generally rediscovered part of me embedded beneath the daily rush and activities of life.
A recent visit to a friend further helped reaffirm the benefits and the joys of journaling and brought back my resolve to continue to pen down my experiences and feelings. He had recently come across the diary he had kept years back when he started his first job and his recollections on his love/ hate affair with his first car were hilarious, funny and nostalgic.
There are many advantages and benefits to journaling and I will share some of them in a bid to encourage us to start to scribble down the highs and lows of our days.
1. Journaling helps to make us aware of and preserve history, both that of ourselves, others and even worldwide events. Through journals written by people who are now dead and forgotten , generations unborn have been given a glimpse as to how life was in the past, the history of their forefathers and family. Also for those of us still alive journaling helps jarr our memories in recollecting experiences long forgotten.
2. It helps to release and reduce stress. I use journaling to write down my frustrations about a person or event and because I can be honest with my feelings I am able to say things I would hesitate to share with others no matter how close they are to me because it might frigthen, offend, confuse or shock them. I have found out that the release I get from pouring out my feelings and emotions have helped me to be more objective in my decisions.
3.It aids self-reflection and a knowing of one’s self. I have had cause to read my scribblings several weeks afterwards and they always give me great insight to my state of mind at the time of writing. In reading my account of myself, I am able to see how much I have grown, identify the events that fuelled my outlook to life and people and I am able to connect with the real me beneath the different togas that I put on.
4. It also helps to put my learning into proper perspective. Because we are bombarded by information left, right and centre on a daily basis, I am able through Journaling to actively engage with and think deeply about the ideas and perspectives I have encountered. I have found that by reading my thoughts and reflecting on ideas I have come across, I understand them better and deeper.
5. Journaling has been said to increase the brain function of processing, retaining and retrieving information as it can serve as a trigger to the brain. It also serves to make us mindful of our present by noting down what we feel or think about certain situations which help ensure our cognitive mechanisms are not left idle.
6. It improves our communication skills and self-esteem as we find our voice and are able to better marshal our thoughts and ideas on paper which makes it easier to communicate them orally.
7. It helps us to know others better. I have been privileged to read some of Mr Aisi’s journals and I have come to know some aspects of him that I didn’t know before like his fears about being a good father, his thoughts about some of my suggestions and actions which he never divulged to me. His attempts to please me in areas where I felt he didn’t try to make an effort at all.
8. It leaves a record for my future self. In looking back at the past through my sometimes inexperienced but innocent eyes , I have been able to catch a glimpse of the person I was and I am better able to appreciate my journey to the person I am now and better understand my relationships with certain persons in my life.
9. It promotes gratitude. The song “Count your blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” is a pointer to the fact that listing our blessings through journaling helps make us mindful of the good we have received and enjoyed.
Journaling does not require much effort or a daily practice nor do we need any special equipment. All that is needed is time, paper or our electronic device and we can start small by writing lists, reminders, letters to self and unsent letters to others that may have offended us.
Whatever mode you employ, I can assure you of being entertained, reassured, nostalgic and bemused sometime in the future when you go through the treasure groove of your writings and rediscover yourself, trace your path and reintroduce yourself to the person you used to be.
On behalf of your future self and your loved ones start journaling today, you and they will be grateful you did.