There is treasure in the pages of your journal.
Like pirates digging for gold, you can sift through the pages of your personal writing and find silver, waiting for you to pluck it up and shine it.
But, if you want to find the treasure in your journal, you have to be willing to follow the map. The map might include some obstacles that you would rather avoid. Booby traps waiting to ensnare you so that you never actually find the treasure you deserve.
“Yeah right, Sara. My journal is where I dump all of the crap that I carry around. I don’t want to dig through it looking for treasure because there’s nothing in there that means anything.”
This is exactly the kind of booby trap you have to look out for. It’ll trip you up and get you believing that your journal doesn’t have any silver between the lines.
On the surface level it may seem as though your journal carries all of your pain in written form. In the pages you’ve written about the times you were hurt, the conflicts you were involved in, the scary thoughts you have about the unknowns in your life. Things you wish you had said but never had the chance to, either because you were angry, caught off-guard, or just plain old missed your chance.
If you want to find the treasure in your journal, it takes the ability to look past the dreary stuff. And to look past the dreary stuff, you have to go into the sandpit of your journal armed with the right tools to dig for treasure.
And this is all a matter of perspective.
I’ve been keeping journals for a long time. At one point, in my teen years, I realized that my current journal was horribly depressing. I started it the summer of my junior year of high school and halfway through my senior year I was flipping through it one day and started to feel a horrible sensation in the pit of my stomach.
Every freaking entry was about being upset with my boyfriend. Or angry with my parents. Or worried about not getting into the right classes. Frustration. Grief. Lashing out. All of this happened on the pages of that journal.
Over and over.
The afternoon that I read it, I decided I was going to put it away and start a new journal. And in that new journal I was only going to write about how great things were in my life.
In the infinite wisdom of a seventeen year old, I put that old journal at the very bottom of my secret journal storage place and was determined that any future journals would tell a happier tale.
Can you see where this is going?
I started writing less often in my journals. And when I opened up my blank pages to write about how great things were, almost nothing came out.
Yes, I could write a little paragraph about how excited I was about the holiday break, or being able to take college classes during my senior year of high school, but it wasn’t fulfilling.
It stopped feeling like my journal and started feeling like a book of lies I was telling myself over and over. And its not that the writing was all a lie, its just that it wasn’t enough.
See, the point of keeping a journal is to process. It’s means to be a tool through which we can sort our emotions, unload what’s on our mind, and work through our shit.
Emotions are processed. Solutions are found.
And if we are willing to let our journal be the dumping ground for all of our shit, then we can go back through and look for the treasure.
When I finally realized what was happening it was almost a year later. I graduated high school and was getting ready to start college. I moved out of my parents house and started to need my journal more than ever.
One afternoon I was writing in my journal and I let myself slip. Instead of writing some brief, meaningless entry about how great things were, I let myself fall into writing about how scared I was to be paying bills on my own. And that I knew that this was it. There was no going back home to the safety of my parents.
That entry was longer and more therapeutic than any I’d written in six months prior to that.
It wasn’t until years later that I looked back through that journal and realized that it was full of treasure. There were so many clues as to what my life was and what I wanted my life to look that. And that cycle has continued.
If we let ourselves be who we are in this moment while we write in our journals, its almost as if we can see into the future. We can write about what is happening in our present space, our now, and dream about what we want to be different. When we consider possibilities or ways to change our circumstances, we are looking into the future. We are telling the universe that we want something different.
We want to grab ahold of the silver that our life can be. We want to live the experience of a life that includes all that we say we want in our journal. The process of working through the stress, anxiety, grief, and even desperation is the silver to be found.
The treasure we find in the pages of our journal is our soul talking to us about what we really want and need. We need an outlet to work through all of the junk that comes with being human.
The anxiety and fear. Longing and doubts. Dreams and hopes. Successes and failures.
We are supposed to work through that stuff. That’s why we’re here. And when we write in our journal, we use the treasure chest as a storage device for all the crap, and find the silver in between the junk. The silver is the solutions and the things that keep us going.
The silver is our soul talking to us and telling us the truth when we need to hear it. The truth could be that you’re not happy with your job. That you want new friends to hang out with. That you’re scared to move away from your hometown.
Whatever it is, the message from your soul, the message that comes up through the process of writing in your journal, is worth all the crap you go through to get there. It’s your very own treasure chest. X marks the spot!
Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.