The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused numerous challenges that have taken a significant toll on people worldwide. During these difficult times, it is important that people persevere and choose to be optimistic in life. Students from Bonita Vista High (BVH) must take advantage of this unique time in history to exercise speaking one’s truth, better one’s well-being, foster hope and positivity and preserve a door to the past for future generations by writing in journals.
Journal writing is described by American writer Joyce Carol Oates as “a written record of your thoughts, feelings or observations about the world. It can [have] short sentences, long paragraphs or even single words. In a nutshell, a journal is whatever you want it to be, as long as it’s a consistent document of self-expression.”
Writing in journals is also an expression of speaking one’s truth. In November of 2019, former First Lady Michelle Obama released a companion volume to her best-selling memoir, “Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice.” In her memoir, according to American book publisher Random House, “Michelle Obama shared her own extraordinary journey to help create space for others to tell their stories and to give people the courage to discover the power of their own voice.” With Michelle Obama’s guided journal, she now offers readers the encouragement to find value in their own voice and personal stories.
Moreover, effective journaling can result in many positive outcomes, including improvements to one’s well-being. As stated by researcher Courtney Ackerman, who holds a Master of Science in Positive Organizational Psychology, “Journaling requires the application of the analytical, rational left side of the brain; while your left hemisphere is occupied, your right hemisphere (the creative, touchy-feely side) is given the freedom to wander and play. Allowing your creativity to flourish and expand can be cathartic and make a big difference in your daily well-being.”
Based on Ackerman’s research, the benefits of journaling include a boost in one’s mood, a reduction in symptoms of depression and an improvement in one’s working memory. Additionally, according to Hayley Phelan, a writer for the New York Times, “studies have also found that writing in a journal can lead to better sleep, a stronger immune system, more self-confidence and a higher I.Q.”
Furthermore, writing in journals encourages a sense of hope, serving as a light at the end of the tunnel for everyone in these unprecedented and hard times. One of the most legendary journals that has been sold, translated and read by millions of people today is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, a journal written by a young Jewish girl in hiding during the Holocaust. Journalist Erin Blakemore explains the origins of Anne Frank and her diary, “Anne Frank received her diary as a gift on her thirteenth birthday in 1942. At first, it was her place to record observations about friends and school and her innermost thoughts. But when she and her family went into hiding the month after the diary began, it became a war document.”
As American author and journalist Scott Christianson describes Anne Frank’s diary, “Her extraordinary depth and fine literary ability, combined with her optimism in the face of such adversity made her account a literary and historical treasure.” Anne Frank’s diary is a crucial symbol from the past which allows millions of readers all across the world to understand important times in history and to prevent making the same mistakes again. The diary also serves as a doorway to the past and reminds everyone to not let history repeat itself.
Writing in journals today can help inform the future of how the coronavirus pandemic transformed everyone’s lives across the world. Life in general is fast-paced and changes rapidly. Although certain events are stored in one’s memory, many other moments tend to be forgotten and lost. Writing a journal will allow students to keep track of their life and the events that took place. The journals are valuable and can serve as a “time-capsule,” especially later in life when everything goes back to “normal” and it becomes time to educate future generations about the implications of COVID-19.
Now, writing in journals is more important than ever. BVH students should definitely take advantage of quarantine and start writing in a journal. Journal writing does not only improve the ability to freely express one’s truth and better one’s health, but most importantly it provides hope, optimism and a gateway to the past during these times that are filled with clouds of unpredictability. As Michelle Obama puts it, “If you don’t see that your story matters, chances are no one else will either. So even though it isn’t always easy, it’s important for you to find the strength to share your truth. Because the world needs to hear it.”