Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Issue with Journals

I have issues with journals. Don't get me wrong. I want to be a journal writer. I love those gorgeous leather bound journals. I gaze at them longingly in the book store and think of all the wonderful things other people could write in them. But I am scared. Literally paralyzed by my own fears . . . I have huge, huge issues with writing in them myself. They are so pretty so I want everything I write to be perfect. I cannot handle mistakes. This is why I write in pencil (because it has an eraser) and in word processors. Just the thought of it not being perfect makes me want to never start. I call it avoidance perfectionism. If I don't ever actually DO it, then the concept of it can remain perfect in my mind.

Perfectly undone.

This probably sounds totally weird to most people. But I know there are others like me out there. It spills out into other parts of my life, it's not just journals, but they are a really prime example of it. Case in point. My husband gave me a gorgeous wood covered journal for my twenty-seventh birthday and I haven't written in it yet. I am thirty-two.

There's actually a book for people like me. A "journal" that gives you instructions about how to dirty it up. Do this with that page, crumple up and throw this page away, etc. The problem here is that I would literally get so caught up in following the instructions perfectly that it would completely defeat the purpose of the darn book.

Completely. Defeat.

I got another journal for my birthday this year. The cover is a gorgeous deep brown leather with beautiful flowers. There's a lovely inscription in it. It's from a woman here in our new town, the wife of my husband's coworker. She threw me a surprise birthday party. She has no idea about my avoidance perfectionism because I really do come off as a normal person. It is so pretty I don't want to unpretty it.

I've had it for almost two months.

Enough is enough.

I gave myself permission to unpretty this journal.

I got supplies. Including PENS.

I put pictures in the front. I didn't worry about the fact that my kids tore the picture of Maddie (so sad, I only have one untorn one left), I just tore the others to match.

I wrote in it.

On several pages.

I'm going to try to write in it more tomorrow. And more the next day. I might skip a day . . . I don't know. The point is I can skip and still come back to it. I can jump around. It doesn't have to be orderly or perfect. It just has to be used. This journal was made to be written in.

And once I've filled this one up, I'll start on my wooden journal.

I refuse to maintain a false perfection by just avoiding. I have to embrace the imperfection.


  1. Jess, I am *so* stinkin' proud of you!!!
    ::throws confetti::
    ::hugs your neck::
    ::hands you chocolate::
    It's tough, it's tricky, but you are going to succeed at this like no man's business ;o)

    ps: that is a freakin' gorgeous journal - makes me think of fairy tales ;o)

  2. Omg, ME TOO!! So, good for you, cause I know how hard that was!

  3. You are so right - overcoming perfectionism is one of the biggest challenges in my life too. I've got some 15-year old journals and scrapbooks still in their shrink-wrap to prove it. I like to say "finished is better than perfect" about my quilts and other creative projects. Also, I have 4 kids and it becomes increasingly obvious with time that life will never be perfect!

  4. Rebecca - Thanks! It was hard! But I was determined.

    Lucy - Whew! I am glad it isn't only me!

    Kathy - I'm learning to say that about my sewing too, it needs to bleed over into other parts of my life :D

  5. I totally do this too! That's why I think blogging works for me better than handwriting or scrapbooking.

  6. WAY TO GO!!! I am so proud of you, stepping out in this beautiful imperfect life. It's not easy, but I have this feeling that way more gets accomplished by people who are willing to be imperfect than by the ones who try to pretend otherwise.

  7. Oh, um... but I won't do scrapbooking or anything graphic, because I suck at it and it won't turn out perfect. So, you know. Pot, kettle.

  8. I am the same, but with sketchbooks. A crappy spiral bound one that u can tear the bad drawings out, and end up using more for shopping lists and ToDo's that never get done? Yeah I can doodle in there. But the beautiful, bound ones? No chance! I'll RUIN it!
    So am very impressed with you :D keep kicking arse!

  9. Yes, do it!

    I have to admit, I've been writing in journals since I was a kid. The thing I love most about it, though, is watching a brand new journal steadily decline into something that has been a little battered about and used. I love getting ink blotches, tea stains, and other stray marks. I adore it when leather covers get scratched up and scuffed. For me, it means that it's been loved, that I've managed to pour my life into it, and that it's no longer a new object that is external to my life, but intimately bound up in it.

  10. Oh my GOSH! I think I've found my perfectionism twin. I now feel compelled to go post a picture of all the journals I haven't written in! For the same reasons!

    I did manage to write in one after I saw The English Patient. I hated the movie, but I got inspired by his journal. He just pasted stuff in it, and I thought it seemed like a good idea. So I did that, and once it wasn't perfect, I could write in it. I--gulp--even crossed stuff out!

    Yay for defeating the inner perfectionist!

  11. Jamila - I kept a daily journal in school, but I was MADE to do it, so not quite the same :)

    Jennifer - Anything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly - so sayeth the Fly Lady

  12. I have an Oberon Journal. I thought my feelings on Journals came from an inner strain of crazy, but I'm glad I'm not the only one. I finally started using it this years. Though I still crave perfection. I even have color-coded pens. Black for personal writings, blue for quotes, and red for Scriptures. Every time I make a "mistake" or misspell something I cringe like nails on a chalk board. It's a slow process, but I'm working on it.

  13. Josh - great idea with the colored pens! I currently feel proud of myself for even using a pen at all, lol! I cringe too - but I overcame the cringe and drew a flower over one mistake ;)

  14. Jessica, I feel the same way!! I hate putting the first mark in the book, I have never bought (or was given) an expensive journal. I use a pencil too! lol! I have a composition journal that I write reviews in for the books I read. The last one I wrote I used a pen! yay!


I love comments! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!