Why Journaling Saved My Life

“I remember him bringing me a pile of papers, folding them in half, and then stapling them in the binding. He pointed as his Cazelles slid down his nose, as they often did. ‘You love to read. Write a book.'”

My earliest memories are of reading. I loved to read. I loved the fact that words could come together and make me imagine things. I always got caught up in the story.

I’ve always been an introverted extrovert. The kind that was never really comfortable with crowds or being around people unless it was someone who I really know. And I’ve always had so many thoughts and emotions swirling around that I was not ever exactly sure how to express or to whom I should express them.

In the fourth grade, my family had just moved to another side of town in Baltimore. All of my friends had known each other since early elementary school and I was “the new girl”. My teacher, Mr. Dunbar (RIP) used to challenge us. It was the late 80s, rap and hip hop were huge, and he was an even bigger fan. He taught us about MLK and Christopher Columbus through rap (to this day, everyone from that class still knows the Sail Shorty Christopher rap by heart). He gave us a writing challenge one day, and there were several of us that loved it.

I remember him bringing me a pile of papers, folding them in half, and then stapling them in the binding. He pointed as his Cazelles slid down his nose, as they often did. “You love to read. Write a book.”

I was confused but intrigued. I was eight or nine years old. “Me? Write a book?”

“Yes. You. Write. Let me see what you come up with.”

I did just that. I came up with these stories, got a friend of mine that was a decent artist to draw the illustrations, and gave them to Mr. Dunbar. He smiled. “All of those books that you read, you can write your own. You should do that.”

hands writing

That began my love, and my need, to write. I’ve always had stacks of journals and notebooks. Writing is a way to purge. It is the way that I organize my thoughts. It’s the way that I best express myself. If it was not my outlet, I’m not sure how I would stay sane (that part is all relative).

At the beginning of each year, I get a new journal. It’s amazing to look through at the end of the year and see your growth. Sometimes, you forget about the things that challenged you or the struggles and you can look back and see how you persevered. Sometimes, I look back and think ‘Wow, I can’t believe that I was stressed over that’.

Words have always amazed me. In a song, they can be a pick me up. In a book, they can transport you to another place. Writing has been my savior more times that I can count.

~Tamara

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