Why I Started Journaling and How I Maintain a Desirable Level of Privacy

I’ve spoken on how I use self-insertion in many of the stories that I write as a means of being self-analytical in a covertly therapeutic manner, however, today, I wanted to discuss why I also do light journaling from time to time. I emphasize the word “light” because, with the various outlets, friends, family members, and lovers that I may use as a sounding board, expressing the emotions that I may experience isn’t difficult when my problems are relatively straightforward enough to solve without succumbing to them like others with underlying issues might. My journaling exists to not only help me stay focused as reference material so that I don’t repeat previous mistakes but also allows for any children that I may have to understand more about me in the event that I cannot guide them. This desire stems not knowing a lot about my grandfather, who was killed in the Vietnam War at a younger age than my own, and whom I’m often reminded that I look quite alike. Before his death in Hậu Nghĩa Province, he would write and send personal letters to his family.

I don’t complicate what I may include in my journal(s). I’ve found myself writing about childhood memories that randomly resurface thanks to the smallest of triggers, relationships that I’ve been in, conversations between myself and interesting people that I’ve met, recipes, decisions that may have not been the best route to take, motivational quotes applicable to the situation that I’m in, or sporadic jokes and comebacks I’ve thought of which might come in handy one day. Reflection is important and I feel free instead of uncomfortable when this is done under the guise of privacy until my demise. After all, I can’t go to hell twice!

Beyond the two reasons that I’ve stated, I fear losing my mind, to an extent. Much like the reason why I backup projects that I’ve worked on using the ‘Grandfather-Father-Son’ data retention method, I would like for my existence to be cemented in history, rather than represent a point of time that can be altered by corrupt scholars looking to change a narrative to fit their structure of power. Facing projection and a possible smear campaign attempt earlier this year has made me realize that as an individual on a lower-level of society. If I do not tell my story “to a T”, someone else will, and I cannot allow that. The result would be a one-sided interpretation and eventually “whitewashing” to pacify the tendencies I’m currently open about. Only I should be able to share the truth, how I believe it should be told. This is not to say that I don’t recognize there are two sides to every story, but there are two sides to every story.

Another reason why I record my life is because of what I would refer to as a slight OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder). I tend to organize everything in order to “center myself in the universe”. As absurd as it sounds, I find it quite helpful when everything I interact with has a place that’s aligned with my priorities and why I follow the lifestyle of a minimalist. Budgeting aside, this involves noting daily the meals that I consume (calories and vitamins too), the exercises that I do, and the books that I complete at the end of the week. Now, all of that may seem overwhelming, I’ve managed a routine that provides plenty of freedom in between scheduled events because I choose not to waste excessive amounts of time on social media or watching television. Mentally, it’s just a matter of being determined enough not to be distracted. Otherwise, this leaves room for poor habits or daunting thoughts to unsuspectedly creep up on me.

While I usually document digitally, I have a plethora of physical notebooks that typically serve an exclusive purpose. One of them is a Bucket-List that ranges from reasonable missions to accomplish like completing a Triathalon, to ridiculous yet possible aspirations such as living on a yacht for a month with my best friends and significant other. I see most limitations as psychological barriers, so it’s important to ignore discouragement, even from those that mean well. I always ask myself “How can I do XYZ?” and do not permit the words “I cannot do–” from leaving my lips. This coincides with “faking it until you make it”, as long as you’re on the path to making it. If you drive for Uber in California and someone asks “What do you do?”, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying you’re a screenwriter if that’s what you also do. Many people I meet would rather speak lowly of themselves instead of present their livelihood as centered around what they are passionate about because of how society looks at certain jobs. That, in itself, is limiting as well.

Going back to the mention of my social media usage in this article, I do a lot of archiving on sites such as Twitter because I look at the platform as an opportunity to engage in public brain dumping. It can be a quick spill of vague thoughts or a couple of lines sharing a concept that probably would not hold up in court in the case of copyright infringement if another creator was inspired by it, although, that’s bound to happen. Therefore, not only do I keep this in mind, I use a Chrome extension called ‘Block Site’ so that I would have to make a conscious effort to express ideas on certain apps. I don’t stress over it because I’m usually divulging bits and pieces of a detailed project that’s either completed or has been in the works for some period with content to show for it.

Speaking of content, photography is also a large part of my journaling process because it assists my brain with visualizing what occurred during that moment. Adding subtext is optional if I feel it is necessary, in the long run. I am definitely in the “Not everything needs to be uploaded” camp due to being secure and not seeking external validation. (I also hide my relationship status and refrain from visibly showing family members on Facebook, for example ) other than business or to personalize a profile, there’s no reason why I need to show who I did what with. Lately, I have even started to remove images of mine from the internet that I feel take up space and are better suited for folders on my hard-drives.

Overall, I find writing in journals very useful and an integral practice that has increased my productivity as I discover, create, evolve, and survive in this world. It’s healthy, constructive, and will hopefully give my descendants somewhat of a transgenerational template to work with so that the future doesn’t have to search for remnants the past in order to progressively move forward. For those looking for a guide that acts as an interview to help them, I recommend books such as ‘2000 Questions About Me’ or ‘Choose Your Own Journal’. I have them both and what I have done is copied the information and filled in the blanks on my computer so that I can keep the pages themselves empty. To each their own, as the books are roughly five dollars, depending on where you purchase them from.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ― Frederick Douglass