Why Give A Young Girl A Journal?
In this age of digital addictions why are more young women turning to the privacy of a journal and notebook? And why it makes sense on International Women's day to give a young girl a journal or notebook and encourage her to get writing.
I started writing a diary around the age of nine, scribbling away my thoughts in one of those diaries with a padlock and key that all girls seem to have been gifted at some point in childhood. I wrote in small, italic script mainly about events of the day, too afraid to commit to paper what was really going on inside me that I found painful to verbalise and express?
Back then I longed for a best friend or trusted adult to confide in unaware of how much benefit writing and expressing how I was feeling in a journal could relieve so much of what I was going through.
Certain parts of my childhood and much of my teenage years felt very turbulent. At one point I remember lingering feelings of the desire to self-harm. I never saw it through instead I turned my attacking feelings in on myself and did the self-harm internally rather than externally.
It took me many years to realise how my regular journaling was a valuable contribution to my recovery from much of the emotional damage of those early years. I journaled because I felt better when I did. Whilst I am not saying that journaling saved me fully from myself it certainly did a huge amount in taking much off the edge of some very savage and toxic emotional debris I struggled with for years.
My eventual graduation into the teenage years and adulthood was accompanied by huge insecurities about just about everything about myself. I held everything in not yet having the psychological maturity to make sense of what was going on. It literally felt like I was dying inside.
During my teenage years I drifted away from keeping a journal as I got caught up in the seduction of boyfriends, studying for my A- levels and getting through university.
I returned to journaling on a regular basis when I became a new Mum in my late twenties. I had so much going and had drifted so far from myself and I was desperate to find a way to come home to myself.
My journal became that home. It helped me make sense of and shape a new self-defining sexual identity, a more rounded sense of the direction I wanted my career to be heading in and generated the wisdom and insight that supported me in navigating my way through an existential/spiritual crisis.
That was over forty years ago. The analogue world I grew up in has been massively replaced with the social media revolution. But despite the rise of social media one recent research has indicated that a poll asking young girls whether they wrote in a journal or notebook resulted in 87% of young girls aged 16-19 sharing that they turned to pen and paper to write down their thoughts rather than turning outwards to the allure and short lived gratification of social media.
So why should you be encouraging more young women to write and keep a journal or dairy?
1. With so much outside pressure about body size, shape and weight keeping a journal provides a space for young women to vent their feelings safely and in doing so increase the potential of gaining some of the many physical and psychological benefits of expressive writing.
2. Journals are not just for writing about the rough stuff but also a space for highlighting the good stuff that also happens in young girls lives. Try out my motto for continued inspiration:
The rough stuff + the good stuff = the write stuff as a gentle reminder of why writing matters.
3. Teenage diaries and journals can easily morph into a positive medium of offline creative spaces where young girls can not only write down and express the difficult stuff but also access a generative space to dream, imagine, draw and doodle and safely experiment and play in a way that is self authorised without the pressure of the whole world looking in.
4. Journals are cost effective, cheaper than a phone and accessible. Your journal has the potential to be both counsellor and best friend. Think of your journal as the best friend whose fab credentials include being a great listener, never judging and being available 24/7. You can tell your journal things you wouldn’t dare verbalise to someone else.
5. Writing in your journal can be done in short bursts very similar to using social media and journal entries can be as short as one word, one line or one sentence. Bu the space away from your phone or digital devise will energise rather than drain you. Journal entries are flexible. Entries can take the form of lists or responses to writing prompts, which can help in regulating your thoughts and connecting you with what you’re really thinking and feeling.
Is there a young girl in your life you could give a journal to today March 8th which is International Women day?
Perhaps you’d like to create a collection of hand made journal prompts (luggage tags are a great for making journal prompts) and add these to the journal or notebook to make writing in a journal more engaging? Here are some ideas of journal prompts you might like to include: What’s lovely about me even if I don’t always believe it to be true? What would I love to be when I grow up? Why would doing this bring me true happiness? Who would I love to mentor me in my life and what is it about this person that I admire? What’s been the biggest success of your life so far?
Young girls and young women can be encouraged in drawing daily emotional forecasts. Happy faces for fun moments in the day and sad faces for when times when you might feel low or down. Emotions are the body’s weather forecast, they come and they go. Young girls can be encouraged to choose one emotions they experienced in the day and write about the feelings and situation that led to feeling that way.
Another prompt might be posing this question: When faced with a problem or dilemma - write yourself a letter from that inner wise girl who’s really smart, clever and who has your back. What would that on the ball girl advise you to do? What encouragement would she give you? What would she suggest you watch out for? What can she see that you can’t see right now?
You can get creative about the way you gift a young girl with a journal. Maybe you’d be up for pushing the boat out by leaving an anonymous journal(s) in a public space young girls socialise in inscribed with the words ‘Write in me.’
The blank pages of a notebook are an open invitation to young women to pen their own stories and narratives giving young women a safe space where they can find and use their voices.
Gifting one journal can make a difference in one young girl’s life. If you want to dive deeper into the world of journaling then the Paper Therapy online course is a six-week course that teaches creative journaling tools and techniques that provide personal insight and personal development.
A weekly collection of multi-media journal exercises arrives in your inbox three times a week and you can work through the activities in your own time and space. For more details head over here http://www.jackeeholder.com/events/
Happy International Women's Day!