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How my one line a day journal gives me perspective amidst change

I’m lucky to have a partner who is an incredible gift giver. Throughout the year, she’ll take note of the things I want but don’t feel like I should buy myself, or the problems that I wish I could solve with the flick of the wrist. That led to a present she gave me in December 2019: A one line a day journal. This was an open invitation to reflect on every day over the course of 5 years, whether it was the highs and lows, most recent travels, or deepest wishes. I loved the concept of this journal as a starting place for my reflections, something that I loved deeply as a storyteller working in big tech who had often had to intentionally carve out space to make meaning out of my experiences.


The blank page can seem intimidating but as the name suggests, this journal offered a place for me to share a sentence or two about what’s on your mind. It’s meant to be open-ended so you can summarise your day, write out some food for thought, or share where you’re currently writing from. There’s no right way to approach it as long as you’re writing authentically.



The author at her desk | Credit: MXT Visuals

January 2020 to January 2025 seemed to offer incredible promise. I was working my first full-time job out of college as a writer and video producer, finding time to attend events in Seattle about the intersection of tech and storytelling, and finding my voice as a queer Pakistani woman.


Carving out space for reflection


I don’t have to tell you much about what happened three months later. What started as reflections of making new friends as an adult and going to barre classes turned into recaps of walks in my neighbourhood and dinners involving some combination of chicken or salmon and broccoli, asparagus, or carrots for dinner. But in between, I would write about my dreams, like wanting to give a TEDx talk about using jealousy as a tool for self-reflection or write a story about how I chose a wedding dress that made me feel like a queer Pakistani bride.


My journal was a snapshot in time or who I was and what mattered most to me in that moment, one that was wholly mine. In the quiet of those journal entries, I realised that I had to be honest with myself first. I opened up about how much I yearned to be in a walkable community, one where my friends were next door and all my favourite restaurants were within walking distance. I wrote about the grief of losing friends and family and wondered when things would feel normal again, if ever. Sometimes, I would avoid writing in my journal because it felt like nothing had changed. Had I even changed at all?


When it comes to self-reflection, it’s hard to see how much you’ve evolved in the moment. Instead, it takes weeks, if not months or years to provide a clearer perspective. As I read through my journal 4.5 years later, I can see how much I’ve grown into the best version of myself. Most of my entries from the first year focused on my frustration with not getting promoted at my full-time job. As a 22-year-old and fresh college graduate surrounded by high achievers, I felt like there was the only way to succeed, and I was trying to make my way as a writer and video producer in tech. Years later, promotions at my day job fell away as the most important thing in front of other things: Writing stories that would have made my younger self feel seen, building strong friendships, and solo traveling everywhere from San Diego to New York to London. My journal created space to not only be creative and foster personal development, but also chronicle moments of joy, which often involved being in community with people who loved me as I am and celebrated my wins.


Openness in my journal and beyond


Once I opened up in writing, I learned to be open with other people. I took the time to read across days, weeks, and years to unearth what really mattered to me deep down. Plus, I’m not alone in feeling this way. A study from 2013 found that people with major depressive disorder who wrote down their thoughts and feelings for at least 20 minutes a day for 3 consecutive days had lower depression scores than people who wrote about typical events in their day. And at the end of the day, it’s a way to spend more intentional time with yourself.



The author writing | Credit: MXT Visuals

A prevalent theme emerged: The things that mattered most to me were freedom and peace. I wanted to feel free to live a life where I was true to myself, away from the outside pressure of how others defined success. As a queer Pakistani woman, I knew I would never fit the mould, something that’s become increasingly clear as I plan my wedding. But I have learned to ask myself, “is this bringing me joy and peace?” and follow that as my strongest guiding light. And along the way, I had to make peace with the fact that not everyone would unconditionally support me and the identities I held, something I had to learn not to carry as my own burden.

                                                  

If my journal taught me one thing, it’s that everything will be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. This singular notion has kept me moving on a day to day basis and serves as a reminder that life will go on, even when a day brings something ostensibly unsurmountable. And although I’ve written hundreds of stories since I got that journal 4.5 years ago and love sharing my dreams with others, there’s something beautiful about writing something just for myself first.


So much has changed since I got my one line a day journal, but my love for reflective writing has remained. I appreciate having a space where I can write about whatever is on my mind without worrying about how I’ll leverage it for a future article or project. And if you don’t consider yourself someone who journals, this may be the invitation you need to start small.



Author's own image


3 Comments


Leopard Violent
Leopard Violent
Jul 08

I always knew I was different from my friends, even as a little child, but I never really understood why. I found my neurotypical friends to bitlife be quite anxiety triggering, even though they looked to be able to handle social settings with ease.

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Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
Jul 01

Take on a challenge by playing Wordle, where language and reasoning skills work together to find a mystery word. Hints help you limit down your options with each guess. How soon are you able to complete the puzzle?

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Ann Green
Ann Green
Jun 28

Your article inspired me a lot and I agree with your views of freedom and peace. Build a life that is honest with yourself and design your life the way you want. Happy Wheels

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