California — Everyone’s heard it, “New Year, New Me.” But how much of this appealing mantra is full of empty promises that end up in frustration and self-hatred? A better you starts with the desire to grow without disregarding the previous version of yourself. Rather, utilize the “old you” as a foundation that you can mold into a healthier person through writing.
For the past five years, I’ve kept a journal. Writing is the most important way in getting a hold of myself, as I can visualize my thoughts with words on paper. I can admit that I’ve cringed at my past self’s flaws. But writing them down has allowed me to accept them. I wouldn’t have been able to recognize them without writing.
Overlooking non beneficial behavior in my life was common as I was in “auto-pilot” mode. Before writing and taking action in my life, I was comfortable and immersed in unhealthy behaviors that caused my depression and anxiety. Identifying the issues allowed me to reach out and find solutions.
In addition to working on myself, the simple act of writing allowed me to let go of my frustrations that would manifest in my head. Overthinking? Write it down. It allows a clearer vision rather than dealing with the blinding thoughts that would constantly swarm over me. This led me to practice mindfulness and record coping skills that have worked.
The best time to write in order to work towards transformation is at the beginning of the year. This particular time helps me reflect on the past year and what I’d like to continue—or change. Questions I’d ask myself are “What do I need to add in my life? What should I take out? Is this environment healthy for me? How can I change my routine and take part in self-care? How can I manage my time better?” These are realistic questions, rather than intense goals that add pressure on one’s self.
The only pressure is consistency. Once you identify what could better you, you need to actively work towards that and remind yourself. Growth is not linear. There will be frustrating set-backs. But reading past journal entries, I can see my progress. There’s evidence that one bad day didn’t cause me to experience an irreversible spiral. That evidence has inspired me to continue on, despite bad moments.
Writing prevented me from losing myself. It’s all on paper. The good and the bad.
Jessica Park is a journalist and student at UC Berkeley pursuing a double major in English and Legal Studies.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett