I have kept journals and diaries since I was in elementary school. I actually still have most of them, though, it is possible that maybe a couple of the super early ones have gone missing. (And I know a few definitely have pages ripped out or large sections blacked out with a thick sharpie.) The point is, I have been keeping a handwritten record of my life for a long time.
However, though I love doing it, I’ve never kept a consistent habit of it. A lot of that is because after a while, it feels like I just waste pages ranting about things that aren’t really worth the pages they fill up. I wanted my journals to have significance. Or at least be more than mundane rants and petty heartbreak. I also wanted them to be a showcase for my creativity. (I blame the 1000 Journal Project on this one.)
But nothing stuck. And back when I was blogging more regularly, I just dropped the habit. I mean, well, I didn’t drop it completely, I still kept a journal. But I found myself abandoning them before they were full. Wanting to start over with a fresh page.
So I finally broke down, and decided, yet again, to try something new: Bullet Journaling.
Now, I’m pretty sure most bullet journaling is more aligned with a planner than journaling itself. It’s about managing tasks and such. Most people have monthly, weekly, and daily spreads. And they very much look like planners with all the to-do lists and how you manage which items got done and which you need to migrate, etc. That aspect of bullet journaling never really appealed to me. Well, not in the sense that I wanted to create a new book for it. I have a beautiful agenda and I love it and will not stop using it to keep my life somewhat organized.
So how am I using my bullet journal then?
Well, it’s more of a hub for my goals, and a place to highlight memories. I don’t have weekly or daily spreads. And my monthly ones do not have a calendar on them — well, not in the traditional sense. I am doing some habit tracking. I saw other people sharing it and thought it looked neat. However, with a week of tracking, I remembered I hate tracking. But I had already committed a page to it for October. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually grow to like it? But yeah, one of the reasons why WW or MyFitnessPal never worked out for me in the long run is because I hate feeling like I have to record each and every detail of my life, rather than just live it. I’m not tracking too much, but still, we’ll see how it goes.
My other pages in my monthly spread are more for personal reflection. Highlighting the events that happened which are worth remembering, noting things to be thankful for, and making note of things I’ve learned.
I don’t see myself adding too much to my monthly spreads. While I love how some people have done their weekly spreads, it’s just not something I need. I’m also not really giving myself space here to write long entries like I have in my traditional journals. Again, a lot of this is because I feel like sometimes I just ramble too much in my writing.
However, I did decide to include some more long-range spreads just to take note of other things important in my life.
One thing you’ll notice in my pictures from my journal, a lot of the spreads are blank. That’s mostly because it’s all still very new. And because I’m indecisive. Do I have items on a bucket list? Yeah. I do. But I haven’t decided if I just want to list them as I think about them, or break them into topics (which means I may run out of room as new ideas pop up and I’ve already committed to a layout).
I saw some really neat books spreads — a lot of them illustrations of shelves and you write the names on the spines as you read them. Those were cool. But I also saw someone who included their goodreads goal and rating system. And so that’s what I went with. Sort of not liking the hearts, but they were easier to draw than stars… but I’ll likely switch. Or maybe tone down the red. I also sort of regret doing a full page to “Places I’ve been in 2016” as, well, I haven’t really been anywhere this year. But I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to use this page without making it feel depressing that I’ve essentially spent yet another year in this town without really any adventures.
My favorite spreads might be my grad school spreads. This is a huge part of my life — heck, it’s almost my whole life right now. So having this recorded and saved is important to me. I’m super proud of my academic work. Of course I’m going to share it. Hopefully I’ll have a “research I presented” and “papers I published” spreads later on!
I’ll hopefully have this left page pretty well filled out by the end of this semester, and that’s really exciting. Just as exciting as it is that I could be graduating December 2017 — assuming I can get my thesis done and defended by then. But still, spring 2018 isn’t bad either.
I’m not sure what this journal will look like at the end. Or even if I’ll keep with it enough to fill all the pages. (Or at least as many pages as it takes to finish grad school.) But going to give it a try for now. I’m hoping between this and my counseling sessions, and a few other self-care things I’m doing, I can have a product that show just how much I’ve grown. Something that can remind me just how strong I am. And maybe just a neat piece amongst many others that I leave as my written legacy.