I started my first journal when I was five years old, as soon as I could write. It was more of a “Dear Diary” back then, but even as a child I found it satisfying to note down what I did each day so I could look back at it weeks later and reflect and laugh at the events of the past. At the time those included growing my own water cress and what a mean boy in the first grade said about my stuffed swan, but nonetheless I found it helped me talk about my feelings in a way I couldn’t speak to my parents or friends.

As I grew older, my obsession with journaling grew. At various points during my childhood and adolescence, my journal was my only friend, the only companion I could speak to. I read The Princess Diaries and fully empathized with Mia Thermopolis, understanding her quest to assertiveness and her struggles to communicate with other people. Being an adult now, I have more than enough friends and family members I can speak openly to, but my trusted companion has never left me. It still resides in my purse, safely nestled against my scarf and chewing gum, waiting for me to open it and pour my heart into it, spilling my thoughts like ink onto paper.

I stopped journaling as I grew older, maybe because I had friends I could confide in, or I found myself to preoccupied, busy, and tired by the time I went to bed. In 2014 I was struggling with depression, and during the rough times where most people reach for their icecream, favourite TV show or Chicken Soup for the _____ Soul, I finally went back to my journal and tried writing again for the first time in years. It has helped me through the hardest of times, but has also proven to be a keepsake of the happy times that I will cherish forever. Since then I carry my journal everywhere with me, as a method of reflection and personal development. However, the style in which I journal has since changed. What used to be pages and pages of tightly cramped handwriting has now blossomed into drawings, sketches, doodles, thought bubbles, letters, lists and more. This is why I would recommend journaling to anyone, it isn’t just a “Dear Diary” letter-style entry, it doesn’t have to be! Your journal can be anything and everything you want it to be.