I have been writing journal entries since the age of twelve. This is a picture taken this morning of my very first journal, "A Daisy Day" diary. It was a source of comfort throughout my early teen years, helping me to sort through a density of emotions. It seems that I spent a lot of time thinking about the future, my old way of surviving the present. I recorded many of my dreams, reflections and my future aspirations. On July 4, 1989, I wrote, I love to write stories, but I want a career in helping people. Maybe I'll be a doctor, a pediatrician or something of that sort. On July 20, 1989, I wrote, I wish to give something to this world. There are so many things I need to understand. When and how I'll understand them, I don't know. Only God knows what's in store for me.
It's interesting to learn about yourself from an earlier version of you. It helps you to see what was steadfast in you and how you have evolved. My sixteen year old self was quite critical of my earlier self. I would read my prior journal entries and make comments that were sarcastic in tone. As I re-read these entries earlier this year, I made notations that were more affirming to my earlier self; Great going kiddo! You did the best you could.
My seven year old also keeps a journal. Sometimes we sit together in her bed and just write. She often enjoys reading to me from her journal. And, at this age she does not mind that I read what she has written. A few months ago, she wrote about being upset with me because I "yelled" at her. As I recalled the incident, I called out to her because I wanted her to get ready for bed and assumed that she was much further away from me. In her mind, I yelled at her and so this is what she wrote. So, I made a notation at the end of her journal entry explaining my side of the story and telling her how much I love her and would not intentionally hurt her. This was more intended for her teenage self. I imagine that she will one day look back and see it.
Now, as I re-read my earlier journals, I keep in mind that they were written from only one perspective and my interpretation of a given situation. This also helps me to be more compassionate towards the persons whom I wrote about.
Consider giving a child a journal so that they could one day learn about themself from an earlier version of themself.