Journaling. Journal ideas. Personal histories. Bullet journaling. Personal stories. Photo journaling. These are all avenues to tell your own personal story and create something for your posterity to love and enjoy. But as I truly think about it, writing and/or recording your own personal story is more than a classic heirloom to pass on to family (which is an important reason to do it anyway). But it is something more. It is a chance to look at your life and see that your life that is one well-lived and to see that you have overcome triumphs, celebrated joys and survived heartaches. And not only is it therapeutic for you, it will be for countless generations after you are no longer here.
As a teen I was an intense journaler. I loved letting my pen flow and all my thoughts crash out on paper. My journal at times felt like my dearest friend, and some days my only friend. Recently I pulled out some of those journals and shared them with my kids. I read them aloud of course because I wasn’t quite ready to share all my thoughts with my own teenagers, but it was a fun evening where my children caught some insight of who I was when I was their age. A silly, hopeless romantic girl who looked at the world through rose colored glasses and a bit of feistiness. We laughed at how often I used the word awesome and at how many boys I crushed on. After our fun night I tucked them away with the idea that there might be some pages I should get rid of before they were in the hands of my posterity, because some things may be a little too personal or a little too hurtful to share. But more on that later.
So why journal or write a personal history and how do you get started? It can seem overwhelming, but below we will discuss the why’s and how’s and where to begin.
Recently at RootsTech I decided to attend as many classes on personal history writing and journaling as I could so I can hone my own craft but also so I can feel motivated to better record my own history. While I was great at it as a youth, my journaling as an adult has been sporadic. I’ve started a better pattern now, but I gained some new insights and ideas that I am eager to try. I want to share some of those tips and also some ideas that I have found to be true over my years of helping people write and record their own life journeys.
Why should I write a personal history/journal?
1. It’s your story and you should tell it.
There are some moments of life that I have to wonder if my three oldest children were growing up in the same house. Their impressions of the same events vary widely. Somewhere in there is the correct version, but to each of them their perception is their reality – their truth. So that’s why it’s important for us to tell our own story. We wouldn’t want anyone else to tell our truth, our feelings or the intimate details of our lives. When I do oral history interviews with clients I prefer for it to just be me and the person who is recording their history. Otherwise that second party may be tempted to get that person to tell a version they remember, rather than the version as the storyteller sees it. It’s human nature. But it’s our story, so we should own it.
2. Everyone Deserves to be Remembered.
3. It creates a sense of self worth.
4. Your story will help others.
How do I start?
1. Start Small
2. Set Goals
3. Set Aside a Time
How do I know what to save?