The Baseline
Published in

The Baseline

A childhood friend: my journal

The one I leave, but always come back to

Unsplash by Prophsee Journal

My childhood best friend Kacey, who over the years identifies as Julia, reminds me of the times we picked our feet up onto skateboards and bent our knees, flying down the black-top hills we grew up on. It always resulted in the both of us falling carelessly at the bottom and laughing. She reminds me of the times we turned off all the lights, played the Black Eyed Peas and waved glow sticks around because it looked cool. She entirely emulates the connection with my one true love that would never leave my side: my journal. It is representative of the energy that no matter how long we’ve been disconnected, we will pick up exactly where we left off.

I’ve been acquainted with writing in journals, specifically, since my first one was gifted to me for my eighth birthday.

Because the words on the blank pages are from myself to myself, which will live on as long as I’m alive.

It’s been handy in early moments that stamped who I am as a person. I remember my mother being upset with me at my lola’s house (which is “grandma” in Tagalog), for whatever stupid little reason. But for regardless of what happened, I was enraged too. Even if that had to do with me forgetting to say “please” or “thank you.” I went into the bathroom, sat on the floor with my notebook and started writing with a Hello Kitty pencil. I released my anger in a way that I didn’t know was possible. It was the first time I felt the importance of this kind of release. Whether it was a redundant correction that mothers contribute to youth or internal emotional build-up, I was able to express it and forget about it soon after. It was a breath of fresh air. My step outside of reality. My comfort blanket.

This is the way I’ve stayed connected to myself, in a brain with too many complex experiences and feelings. I found a way to track it all.

And so as a little girl I would write “Dear Diary,” and go on with any hardships I felt as an elementary school loner. It understood me before Julia came into the picture, and will understand me even in the times she’s not around. Because the words on the blank pages are from myself to myself, which will live on as long as I’m alive. The older I’ve grown, these short passages transpired into philosophical notions and observations, allowing me to track my growth as an individual. I began as a seed, learning how to grow leaves with deeper roots.

I now have a collection of books. Not the ones that are known by the names you’d see displayed in Barnes and Nobles or any other book retailer, but written by myself. They’re not edited to be any types of New York Times Best Sellers, but they’re priceless in a way that only I could understand. All of the gel ink pens I’ve gone through, and dollars that I’ve given to Michaels Arts and Crafts for their blank-paged journals. This is the way I’ve stayed connected to myself, in a brain with too many complex experiences and feelings. I found a way to track it all.

Writing has been a holy grail of who I am as a person; it keeps me centered. But as a growing woman in my early twenties, there has been a disconnect when a journal and gel pen weren’t by my side.

Since leaving high school, I’ve had an internal battle with the expectation of making money. I want to make sure I don’t experience what I have in the past: barely scraping by.

My mom struggled to make ends meet with a short paycheck- years through mine and my brother’s life. This being finding a small, cheap apartment to live in; let alone, pay for rent and keep food on the table. As soon as I was old enough to work, I tried my best to provide for myself in the ways that I could. So after graduating high school, I felt the pressure to make a stable income, but still maintain happiness and fulfillment from my career (as I am privileged to do so).

My anxiety weaves through the complications of each decision and I break more often than I wish.

This had been quite the journey, in times where I sold life insurance and recruited Starbucks baristas into a pyramid scheme business. But after six months, I told myself to veer away from the unethical financial objectives and decided to pursue my interests in different forms of writing. This ranges from poetry, journalism and writing for television and film; all in which take time and effort to become proficient in.

I can’t knock myself down for following my interests, but also cannot deny the exhausting hours of work it takes to do so. Even if that means drinking cups of coffee to pull an all-nighter, studying for a bullshit general education subject. I suppose colleges find this more important than getting right to the nitty-gritty of writing what you truly want to write.

Time quickly becomes my biggest enemy. My anxiety weaves through the complications of each decision and I break more often than I wish. By the time I realize, it’s been a year and some months since I’ve contacted my old friend, the gel-ink pen and journal.

I sound like your least favorite horror film, where you’re yelling at the screen, Don’t go through that door! Stop instigating and get out of the haunted house!

I know. Just set aside the time to write! Why does it have to be so complicated?

I forget to truly listen to what I have to say, outside of the noise and pressure of attaining a career that fulfills me and making money.

I totally get it. Consistency could easily solve the problem, right? Why is it so difficult to stay connected with something that connects the dots? Something that could one day, be profitable? How does that make sense to bounce back and forth with all the instability of shifting focus onto other forms of writing?

My interests in pursuing writing as a career is scattered. I can’t deny my love for film. I also can’t deny my love for poetry. Or consider the impact I could make in the field of journalism. This is where you’re thinking, typical 22-year-old. I spend so much time hopping from one to another that I tend to forget what initially centers me: writing in journals.

The world is noisy and all I could do is try my best to make sense of it, and I do this through journaling, regardless of the fact that my journals can’t be New York Times Best Sellers (yet). But they are to me, since they make up the board in which I play the game of life.

I forget to truly listen to what I have to say, outside of the noise and pressure of attaining a career that fulfills me and making money.

It has been a constant back-and-forth, writing and listening to my journal as well as progressing with my life, trying to be some success story of my own. I want to create something that I could be proud of (but hopefully profiting at the same time).

While I cannot deny the need to move forward, making money and thriving with a label of success attached to my shirt saying, “I do *this*! I hope you’re impressed, the connection to my old friend of writing in a journal will always be my roots. Aside from the jargon of outside noise, it is important to be reconnected again and again with what you know works. What you know embodies good memories and growth, like a childhood friend such as Julia, who will always pick up exactly where you left off. Something/someone that will always remind you of peace of mind. Writing will constantly enter and reenter my life as something that is purely my voice outside of any societal expectations.

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