I’ve gone through different periods of my life where I wrote in a journal very regularly. Until the last year or two I kept every single one of them.
Recently I came across some old journals again and decided it was finally time to reread them and feel into whether they were clutter. Was it time for them to go or was there was something really worth saving in there?
The first journals I read went back as far as middle school. It was very interesting to see how many times I wrote something to the effect of “Wow, all this stuff in my life would sure make a good book/movie someday,” in not only the old journals, but the more recent ones as well.
I began to see that a big part of the reason I was hanging on to these journals was because I had it in mind that I would need them for that day I wrote my book.
But what I also found was that instead of really meaningful stories there was a lot of hurt feelings, anger, despair, depression. In the most recent journals I read I discovered some really, really funny stories too though – so funny I laughed out loud and was glad to have the reminder of such happy times.
Did I end up keeping the journals? Most of them, no. I shredded and recycled all of my journals that were more than 20 years old. And so far in the more recent journals I have only kept the really funny stuff and the notes I took during the time I was traveling in Europe.
Part of me would really like to return to some of the places in Europe I previously visited and to view them from my new perspective and compare them to how I viewed them when I was there before. My travels to Europe really opened something up for me, and I feel like it’s that curiosity more than anything that makes me want to hold onto parts of the journal from that time.
What I discovered more than anything else was that journaling has largely been a way for me to process out a lot of the feelings that I have – and more often than not those feelings have been pretty negative. As I reread passages where things weren’t going so well in my life, I could really feel all those negative emotions well up in me again too.
Rereading those journals helped me feel how I could either keep hanging on to that part of my life, or thank my journals for letting me pour my heart out to them and then let them go along with all the negative emotions they were filled with.
At this point I only have journals that are five years old or less. I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to let those go, but I also realize that I’ve never reread them since I wrote in them. Journals can feel so personal and close to our hearts, it may be hard for many of us to let them go. But what is it that we’re really hanging on to?
I’m curious if you’ve ever reread or considered getting rid of your old journals and what you felt or encountered when you did so. Leave me a comment below and let me know!