Journaling: How I Learn About Myself
Journaling can be a very emotional experience for me. As I read through my writing from the past few years, I’m pulled back through time into some of my most painful and joyful moments.
I’m transported back to my anxious time in college, the stress and the uncertainty. I tried to fit in, but I desperately wanted to be different.
I remember getting a job I loved and the embarrassment of being fired, practically pushed onto the street still holding a company coffee mug.
I remember walking through the cold winter night in Boston wishing, hoping, and wondering: “Who do I want to be? I think I want to drop out, start my own business, and travel all over the world. Is that okay?”
I’m brought back to my year living in Asia, after leaving school. I stayed up until 5:30AM every night cold calling American companies. I lived on $1/day, ate white noodles out of plastic bags and begged for flavorful broth from Thai soup vendors.
One morning, a snake slithered into my room and bit me. Unable to pay the hospital bill, I nervously handed over my passport as collateral. I only had a few weeks left on my Thai visa.
On April 5th, 2015, I wrote a “Note To My Future.”
“You are working very hard and not yet seeing the results. That is okay. That is okay. Just keep pushing forward. When you look back at this note, know that you did not quit. I love you, man, and I will never give up on you.”
I remember the night I wrote that note. I’m laughing, slurping noodles out of a plastic bag, sitting alone at a small table in my small studio apartment in Northern Thailand.
These reminders help me understand how I act, why I act that way, and the effects of those actions. I see how I’ve changed and how I’ve stayed the same. Single events reveal themselves as patterns I play out again and again.
It is nearly unbearable to re-read some of my entries from Thailand. I had such strong faith that all my effort and late nights would lead to something. In the end, they didn’t.
It’s a reminder that many of the projects I’m working on today may also lead to dead ends. This helps me focus and put in my best effort. It also reminds me to untie my deeper emotions from the results. Some projects will not be successful, but I can work towards positive outcomes without fearing negative ones.
I look back at the fears that stopped me from taking action, and I remember the joy I found in facing the fears I pushed beyond. Today, I’m taking on more responsibility than ever: raising money from investors and promising to turn my positive predictions into reality. Sometimes I feel that fear, but my journal entries embolden me to push through.
I haven’t given up on myself since writing my “Note To The Future.” My focus and clarity have increased over time, and today I have faith in my persistent, continuous action. I’m comfortable taking on larger commitments because I know I’m capable of following through, even if results arrive later than expected.
Journaling helps me decide what to do and also when to do it. Two years ago, I was eating noodles out of plastic bags, and I can feel how quickly the next two years will pass. Like a driver with a GPS, I know how far I’ve driven as well as the distance to the next milestone.
Before I started journaling, events that occurred more than one year away were either a blurry distant past or an unplanned “far off future. I couldn’t perceive time accurately. By keeping track, I can make more educated predictions, take on larger responsibilities, and grow into the capable, trustworthy person I want to be.
Journaling allows me to see myself in the process of becoming me. I remember who I was, recognize who I am, and realize who I can become.
Editor’s Note: Nico has kindly offered to give away one of these beautiful Noteworthy Journals! To enter to win, leave a comment below. You can enter until midnight PST on April 3, 2017.
Update: our winner has been chosen (Katy).