My freshman year of college, I was required to take an English course. After looking through literature courses that were a rehash of high school and being the self-awareness, self-improvement nut that I am, I settled on a class called Writing the Self. If I were to be completely honest, it also sounded a little easier and lighter than American Literature.
As I eagerly walked to my first class on my first day as a college freshman at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Music, I was full of so many emotions that I wasn't even thinking about the possibilities that awaited me. I walked into the 8 AM class full of lost and sleepy freshman. It was a bright room in a circa 1940's brick building that was common for an industrial town like Cleveland, Ohio. The sun shined brightly through the windows piercing our pupils and alerting us to a new beginning.
Our professor awaited us at the front of the class. She was a young woman, likely a Ph.D. candidate, in the process of completing some student teaching requirements. She walked before the class and said, "Hi, my name is Kristen, and welcome to Writing the Self." Our only required book for the class was a blank journal in which we were to start discovering one of the most powerful tools in our direct access, ourselves.
Kristen started to explain the principles of the class. She said that we were going to learn free form writing. Each week we would have a topic to ponder and we could make a journal entry about that topic and discuss it in the following class. The only rule was not to stop writing. Don't go back and scratch anything out. Just keep going even if you make a spelling or punctuation error. Spelling wasn't the goal, exposure was.
As I went home with my first assignment, I thought and considered the question at hand at various angles and sat down to write. It felt awkward and unnatural to not over-analyze every word coming through the tip of my pen, but with time the hesitation vanished and free form writing ruled.
In that short semester I learned a tool that I will use for the rest of my life. Writing the Self turned me on to journaling, and although I haven't always been a regular journal writer, it is always something I come back to.
I have found free form journaling to be an amazing tool to bring about awareness through expressing your stream of consciousness. Whether in a time of joy or sorrow, I can turn to writing in my journal to express my feelings, and suddenly a thought will topple onto the page that I hadn't consciously considered before. Those little spurts of new awareness have brought me to some of the most profound conclusions in certain seasons of my life. I've been able to process grief and express concerns.
My journal will listen to me if no one else will without interrupting or judging me. It is one place I can be completely honest and free. That freedom and trust with the blank page is one that I've grown to cherish. I encourage you to discover the joys and power of journaling if you don't already know, and if you do please share your experiences. Your consciousness awaits you. You can!