Writing about the past can be insightful, validating

Megan Keane , Columnist

In a couple of my classes this semester, we’ve begun discussing the helpful aspects of journaling. Don’t roll your eyes: journaling is therapeutic and beneficial. I don’t do it often, but when I do, it helps me acknowledge and understand my feelings. This may not seem important in the grand scheme of earning your bachelor’s degree, but rest assured that emotional intelligence is just as important as intelligence. 

Since starting my path down the creative nonfiction writing route, I’ve found that writing about past events or feelings—making sense of troubling conversations that I look too deeply into—has really given me a better perspective about my life. Through writing about past experiences, I’ve learned a lot about myself and have had some interesting and—dare I say—life-changing insights about my life. Plus, I get the added benefit of sharing my personal writing with a class, more often than not, and while terrifying, having your feelings acknowledged is validating.

Even by just writing through your problems and not sharing them, you’re acknowledging and validating yourself, owning your experiences and acknowledging your feelings. In other words, you’re caring about yourself; it’s a form of self-care, journaling is. With certain experiences, we’d rather just ignore them or not deal with them—whether it be something that really annoyed us or hurt us. It can help us continue our lives, but not to move on. Not to decisively say what that experience made us feel or what outlook we have on those experiences.

Professor of English Daiva Markelis shared an interesting and enlightening study with us that involved patients with AIDS in a writing group and how writing about their stories and sharing their stories positively influenced their outlook. If writing about their personal experiences can help people battling AIDS, the benefits for the rest of us are unlimited. This sort of personal writing and sharing and acknowledging promoted caring, and who doesn’t want to be cared for/care for others?

What’s troubling you? Is it a past event that lingers? Is it a feeling, a person, a workload? What’s the harm in picking up a pen (or a word document) and writing about it? In being honest with yourself in your writing? Maybe you don’t feel like you have the time to do this—journaling. I urge you to make time. If it doesn’t help you work through your inner turmoil, email me and we can discuss it.

Megan Keane is a senior English and psychology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or

[email protected].