When I was 19 I had very few friends. Hard to imagine for some knowing me, but journaling has been a transformational tool for me. I found my voice 16 years ago when I was just starting to come into my own and develop confidence. A useful way of venting my frustrations growing up in Joliet, Illinois feeling alone. Feeling like I was searching for love in all the wrong places. I felt unconnected to people because I was “different”. I was made fun of for “talking proper”, when I felt I was simply speaking normally. The fact that I loved ice hockey or bands like Green Day and Metallica also brought criticism. Being a person of color, this is something I still have to deal with. Journaling was there to speak to my honest emotions to. Nothing was wrong with me. And I am not an outcast. Even being able to have friends in many different groups, I still felt like I didn’t fit in.
Journaling was my avenue to express emotions and get the weight of the world off my shoulders. A way for me to stop being angry that it was just me. I knew I was passionate about hockey. All I ever wanted was to play hockey and be around the game. And outside my family, I felt nobody cared that this is what I wanted. I wrote a lot about the desire to be around people I could connect to that cared about hockey and could relate to. A community I could be a part of. Once I started making junior hockey teams in Banff, Alberta and later Boston, Mass., I started developing friends and my confidence. When I would do new things or have new experiences, I wrote it down. I wanted to remember what I was doing, where I was, and how I felt. No more walking around feeling burdened all the time. Starting to explore my emotions and put them on paper, I was able to look back and see how angry I was and that I had things I needed to work through.
Since deciding that journaling was going to be part of my personal improvement process, it has become my way of having an open an honest conversation with myself about where I am, what do I want, and how do I feel about it? During the spring of 2017, I was working with my Business Success Coach on an exercise about defining a major purpose for my life. It was the perfect opportunity to utilize my journal to figure out what I felt my major purpose was and what my values were that would become my foundation. Since then, decision making has become much easier. If an opportunity or distraction is not in line with my values or my purpose, I don’t invest my time and attention to it. When I evaluate my actions to see if I’m not giving my attention and full effort to what is in line with my values, it’s a cue to figure out why am I not doing what I said I would do? Most recently, I had one of those moments when looking at a student loan payment. I’m not satisfied with my effort repaying it and honestly wrote, “I’m not doing this right.” Asking myself why and what my priority was with this last hurdle to becoming debt free, I opened up. Typically, I write about a page per entry, but this one was 4 full pages. I revisited a previous relationship and budgeting conversations we had, how my priority had changed moving from Des Moines, Iowa to south Florida and had a realization that there was something I was afraid of. From there, I started asking questions like:
- Why would this be true?
- How could this actually happen?
- Is it likely to?
I’m beginning a deeper conversation with myself to stay in line with my values now that I’ve uncovered how I was getting distracted by fear. It felt like my eyes were finally opened to something that was buried for years. Now that this is in the open for me, I can work to understand where this has come from and how it’s directly impacted relationships I’ve been in. It’s an exciting time for me because this is where the change happens. Journaling now, I’m asking myself what am I afraid of and listing out everything that comes to mind. I’m learning when you acknowledge fear, you can take away its power. Advice I wish I could give myself 16 years ago. It might be emotionally difficult, but it’s emotionally necessary. To be the change I want to see in the world, this is a great place to begin.