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Reading through my year

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018

232 days ago, I started a diary. This was my first entry.

“8/26/17: And so begins my personal journal. I’m writing this to document my journey through college[,] as right now it’s pretty saddening and I hope that one day I can look back with satisfaction at how far I’ve come.”

I remember being in a particularly melodramatic mood at the time, and maybe it shows. The stress of the beginning of the year had made me an unpleasant combination of tired and confused — I felt like I was being dragged through my first few days in South Bend.

Seeking some advice, I vented my frustrations to a friend one day. She asked me if I’d ever thought about journaling, she said it might help to have somewhere to write out my feelings. Half-heartedly, I told her I’d think about it. I’ve never been one for routine, and, considering my poor attention span, part of me expected to find it tedious and annoying and abandon it before long.

But still, it’s not like I had any better ideas. I picked up a little 200-page notebook the next time I was at the bookstore.

I felt my mood lighten after that first entry. Journaling doesn’t fix your problems for you, but by putting them into words, it does add a sort of clarity to them.

Since then, its become a small but treasured part of my life. I carry my notebook with me wherever I go, and write in it whenever I felt like it.

During Easter Break, the end of the year not far off, I figured it was high time I go back and reread it all.

As I made my way through, a warm, sentimental feeling washed over me. Even with entries I had no recollection of writing, the voice speaking across the pages was distinctly mine. It’s the same, oddly comforting feeling you get when looking at an old photograph of yourself. You’re aware of how much time has passed and how much you’ve changed, but it’s still you.

Reading the journal, I relived the entire year — this time, through the eyes of a spectator.

I was led back through some of my worst days.

“3/5/18: It’s just one of those days where I want to disappear.”

But my best ones, too.

“3/24/18: So many good things happened this week. I hope all my weeks are as good as this one.”

Some entries were ranting monologues spanning several pages. Others, about dreams I’d had the night before. Or comments about the weather that day. Or prayers.

Some stuff just made me laugh.

On October 10 — the day of my chemistry midterm — I woke up at 4 a.m. with the flu. I had to email my professor a video of myself taking my temperature so he’d believe I was really sick. “This really sucks,” I wrote.

Sometimes there were weeks where I said nothing at all.

And then there was March 28, the one day I couldn’t find a blue pen and had to write in red ink.

When I got to my latest entry, I leaned back and just stared at it for awhile. I let the year, in its entirety, sink in. So much of my life had changed within those 183 pages; within the eight months that had passed. Each entry told its own little story — every one of them meaningful in their own way. In ten, or twenty or fifty years, when I’ll remember comparatively little about my time here, this journal will be the window back in. And I’m just really grateful for that.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Mary Steurer

Mary is a senior sociology major and journalism minor from St. Louis. An aspiring religion reporter, Mary has spent the last year covering conversations about the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis at Notre Dame.

Contact Mary