Why is there the common practice of giving little girls diaries with locks on them? Little girls are encouraged from a young age to pour their inner-most feelings and secrets out on the page and then keep them locked away. What’s up with the lock anyways? Is it so little girls can feel free and safe to express their feelings, so they won’t be judged? Or is it a way of telling little girls not to speak their minds?
As a little girl I was given such a diary once. I think it was from a well-meaning school teacher, I certainly never asked for one. I also recall that it looked really pretty, it was red leather with gold swirls and a gold lock. I kept it on my bookshelf and mostly used it as a notepad rather than a diary. And I lost the key shortly after I got it.
I was never the introspective person who was stimulated from the inside out, I am very much stimulated from the outside in. By that I mean that I would spend hours and hours reading alone in my room as a child. I read almost every single one of the hundreds of Nancy Drew books. To this day I still love a good story about a kick butt feminine crime-solving heroine.
Fast forward to today. I feel like I’ve missed a trick here. After years of observing friends who are avid journal keepers, I’m a little jealous. This seems to be a very worthwhile and important activity for them. (And for the record I feel strongly that children of both genders should be equally encouraged to keep a journal or diary).
At the insistence of my coach (yes I have a coach and I think everyone should have one whether they are of the life, career, or corporate variety) I have been keeping a journal for a month. This is already 3 weeks longer than my last attempt when I was 7. Even if I can’t think of anything to write, I force myself to write at least one page. Stream of conscious and verbal diarrhoea here we come! Whether it’s the highs or lows of my day, how I felt about my performance at work or the dreaded “how do I really feel?” I have to do it. For those of you familiar with the MBTI personality test, I’m a “thinker” not a “feeler.”
I’m not going to lie, I find journal writing extremely challenging. When my coach first mentioned it to me she told me (after she saw the horrified look on my face) “don’t worry, just check in with how you’re feeling while you write.” Me: blank. Her: “You know, when you take stock of how you’re feeling?” I didn’t know but I’m a good sport, I’ll try anything once.
And I’m glad that I did. Since I’ve gone back and read a month’s worth of entries I’ve probably learned more about myself in that short time then I would have in 5 years. I think this is what they call in therapy (which coaching is absolutely not btw) the breakthrough moment. I can’t believe that I didn’t do it sooner!
My second favourite Queen of England (Victoria, second only to Elizabeth I) was an avid journal keeper. She wrote daily her whole life and she was pretty cool. I’m sure it helped her run the country a bit better for those 63 years. Anyways I think you get the picture that the practice of journal writing has been around for centuries. Couldn’t we all use a little more honesty and reflection in our lives?