I’ve kept journals since I was 18 years old.
That is a lot of journals.
In my snowed-in free time, I decided to start typing journal entries into my computer.
I imagined the thrill of searching for names of people, places, and things I’ve written about and then compiling them into stories.
In my ambitiousness, I dug out my journal from my freshman year in college, and started typing away.
I only made it through four months before realizing that at that rate, I could be hunched over my computer for the rest of my life – or at least until I’m wondering why I’m spending so much time transcribing someone else’s journals, having forgotten they are mine.
I haven’t completely given up on the idea because what writer doesn’t want to pull out everything they’ve ever written, parse it to death, and write it all over again?
My daughter Annie offered to help with this monumental task, but I’m not sure I’m ready for her to read my unedited nonsense.
Today, maybe not.
Even though I only made it through four months, I found some wonderful bits of wisdom and learning tucked in my 1975 journal entries.
I learned what a pivotal year that was for me; and I discovered some major life lessons that deserve to be remembered:
You never know who will inspire you and end up shaping your life in meaningful and profound ways
There was a friend, Rich, who suggested I start writing for the student newspaper, which led to my decision to major in journalism, and later to becoming the editor of that newspaper, and discovering my love of writing. There was the roommate, Connie, that told me I needed to “get off the fence” with my religion. She was right, and I needed to hear that. I followed her advice, committed more deeply to my religion, and began to discover my spiritual self.
Absence Really Does Make the Heart Grow Fonder
When I left for college, I gained a whole new appreciation for my family. I wanted to make them proud of me, and I wanted them to know how much they meant to me. I started to work at my relationships with them– writing letters, calling home, spending more time with them when I visited, and trying to show how much I loved them. I learned that all relationships take work.
Good friends make all the difference
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard or as often as I did during that first year of college. I’m glad I hung on to many of those good friends, but I’m sorry about the ones I let slip away.
I realized in college the importance of standing for something. I broke a lot of dorm rules that I thought were silly, and I’d probably break them all again if I had a do-over because they really were silly. But, when it came to the big and important stuff, I was determined to live a principled, value-driven life, which I’ve never regretted.
I might not make it through decades of journals, but I’m glad I made it through four months worth.
Who knew I learned so much in those four months?
Can you remember who inspired you, what you loved, believed and valued when you were 18?
How did that year shape your life?