The Danger of Journaling IS Introspection
I was having an off-day a few months ago. To try and lift my spirits, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I have the ability to time travel.
Not literally, of course, but figuratively in the one direction of the past (which is almost as good as not at all, admittedly).
By maintaining a daily journaling habit for ~5 years now, I can "revisit" any day in that timeframe, remember the people I interacted with, the thoughts I was thinking, and the admire the seeds of ideas that incubated in the interim of then and now.
On this particular day, June 21, I "visited" 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
And holy shit. So much has changed…but nothing has changed.
Physically, I am a different person. My location is different. My age is different. My finances are different. My crushes, my friends, my job, all radically different.
But what has stayed the same, disappointingly, is the shape of my goals. The mountain I set out to climb nearly 1500 days ago is still looming, and I am still at base camp.
Sure, I've made "progress" towards the summit of self actualization, but in reality, I've written a lot more about what I want to do as opposed to what I have done over the past five years.
In a way, introspection has held me back. It has made me viscerally aware of my shortcomings in the financial, professional, romantic, and physical realms. Introspection has reminded me of dropped promises, awkward encounters, unfounded concerns. It reminds me of just how naked and vulnerable in the cold of space and time I really am.
But on the other hand it's kind of… really fucking funny?
The raison d'etre of the exercise of daily journaling is to step outside of the stream of time, to crystallize thoughts and emotion, to view oneself from as detached a perspective that can be mustered.
I'm looking from now, from "above", in 2022, at this gelatinous creature in 2018 with desires and pains, likes and dislikes, thoughts that amounted to being nothing or more often entirely incorrect. I'm watching him lament, I'm watching him try to problem solve, I'm watching him cope, and build, and destroy, and dream, and panic. It's hard to not examine this creature with pity, with a dose of concern for his mental well-being.
And yet… he's kind of cute. His persistence is admirable. He gets up every day in pursuit of his goals, even though I know as the future reader that in many ways, he has failed. I find myself cheering for this man stuck in the page, go you fighter, go! Continue to strive out the mud. Continue day in and day out to climb this unforgiving fucking cliff face, and if your fingers are bloody at the end of it, and you sit breathless at the bottom, staring up as the snowy wind pelts your face, you can rest easy knowing that you've tried.
I know you've done your best.