Journaling is the Best (and Cheapest) Tour Guide Available

Journaling LifeJournaling for Life

By Melia Dicker


            Since I was around five years old, my journal has been my closest confidant. I was still getting used to holding a pencil at the time when someone gave me a little hardback journal with a metal lock and key. Even though my secrets weren’t any juicier than “I went to Disneyland. It was fun,” the important thing was that I had a place to keep them.

            As I grew older, my journals changed along with me. In middle school and high school, I used thick 8 ½ by 11 college-ruled Mead notebooks. As a preteen, I filled them with boy gossip and inevitably ended entries with “I heart so-and-so forever.”Often, I listed two or three names of boys that I loved deeply. In high school, I documented my teenage emotional highs and lows, my severe school stress, and the rare fights with my best friend. My journal let me vent and cry, even when I had no one else to talk to.

            I kept a travel journal when I went to Europe for the first time in college, describing the beauty of London, Paris, and Madrid. I began to paste mementos into the pages with a glue stick—postcards of the places I’d visited, snippets of brochures from art museums, and concert ticket stubs.

            While I was studying in Spain for a semester in 2000, I bought my first Miquelrius journal in a little papelería, an office supply store. I haven’t used another kind since. The spiral-bound journals have sturdy but flexible vinyl covers and come with or without lines. They’re 6 x 8inches and perfectly portable.

I got into the habit of gluing keepsakes not only into the pages of my journal, but also onto the front covers, so I could distinguish one journal from the other by the period in my life it represents. Every inch of the covers of my current journal, which I began on April 3, 2008, are covered with items like an Apple sticker on it to commemorate my first Mac computer and address labels from my old apartment in San Francisco.

Within the pages of my current journal, I wrote about falling in love with my partner, Darren, leaving the organization I co-founded, and eventually moving to Mississippi. Even though I talked about all of these things with my friends, the experience of telling them to my journal was different. I could be as completely honest, incoherent, enraged, immature, jealous, goofy, insecure, or despairing as I felt in that moment. I could share my thoughts and feelings freely, without worrying about how someone else would react to them.

I love looking back through my old journals and reading over the colorful adventures I’ve had, and the struggles I’ve survived. Just as much, I love looking at the blank pages of a new journal and wondering what events will fill those pages—tomorrow, next week, or next year. I expect that by the time I’m into my golden years, my friends will have come and gone, but my journal—my unwavering source of strength and solace—will still be at my side.   


Melia Dicker is a freelance writer based in Jackson, Mississippi, who has kept a journal for nearly 25 years. She blogs about lifelong education and personal transformation at