What is your most valuable possession?

I’m not a materialistic person. I have lived with very little for extended periods of time – think backpacking the world or moving to a city for a few months and not wanting to accumulate stuff.
I quickly noticed that things don’t make me happy in the long run, and to this day, I feel pretty detached from my material possessions.

The one thing that I absolutely cherish in its physical form is my journals. I started journaling at a young age. In the beginning, not in a book but rather on random sheets of paper. I remember journaling for the first time when my great-grandma passed away. I was nine years old and had experienced a close person’s passing for the first time in my life. I turned to an A4 yellow sheet of paper and wrote how emotional this situation had affected me. Somehow I must have already realized back then how soothing this outlet was and how I could handle this difficult period by myself.

The other experience I had with ‘journaling’ was my mum. She used to write us long texts when we had a fight or an argument and didn’t want to talk to each other. I would often find a page describing her feelings towards this situation on my seat in the dining room or the kitchen. I thus learned how helpful it could be to sometimes put things out of your mind and onto paper rather than throwing emotionally charged profanities at them. It helped me understand my mum’s perspective a little better and remove all the bitter feelings and simply focus on the paper’s words.

My first real journal was given to me by my sister. She had labeled it ‘The Tribe’-journal. The Tribe was my favorite TV-show when I was young. It was basically about a world in which a virus had broken out and killed off all adults, leaving the kids behind to figure out their own life (as if people had known). At the time, I had a hard time making friends in school, and this series was my refuge. I spent my time journaling about how I felt for the characters and their storyline and eventually started writing about my personal struggles in life.

I kept up journaling over all those years. I have dozens of journals from the past 18 years or so. I haven’t written diligently every day but rather sporadically and some times more than others. Yet, I frequently come back to these books because they are fascinating to me to read – I get reminded of my younger self, my thoughts, and experiences at the time, and I am taking advice into my current situation.

And in case you’re wondering – as a language lover and polyglot, I have written in different languages indeed. One of the best language learning advice of all times has been to write my diary and journal in other languages. I have a diary in Japanese, some passages in French, some childhood passages in German but the overarching language in English. It is the language I feel most at ease expressing my thoughts.

Journaling has been a lifeline for me these days more than ever. It’s the friend who is always by my side, listening without judging.