June 21st 2015. Fresh out of A Levels, I’d read online about one sentence a day journals and was intrigued by the idea. I love to write, but often find myself struggling to find the motivation behind my writing. Who will it really have an impact on?
It turns out, myself.
I wrote a sentence a day for almost three years. There were some time periods skipped, mainly because I misplaced the journal a lot, and when I did rediscover it, my goldfish memory couldn’t even remember what I’d had for lunch earlier that day, let alone what I did a week ago.
I’ve dug out my sentence a day journal from the drawer I’ve ended up leaving it in and want to delve back into the near three years which helped shape who I am today.
(All the entries start with ‘Today’. I wanted to be consistent. And it looked neat!)
The humble beginnings. I was excited to be giving myself a project. Here are a few ‘sentence a day’ extracts of what I chose to document during the latter half of the year. Oh, what I’d tell freshers me what I know now.
1. 6th July: Today a nightmare has led me to a new book idea called ‘Dream Traps’.
I still remember this dream vividly. Currently, the first 2000 words of said novel sits in my iPad as an unfinished idea. But this dream, and many others, have inspired stories and brought me to emphasise the reality of my work. I’m still working on other pieces, including this one!
What I Learned: It’s never a bad thing to keep doing something you’re passionate about, even if it never brings you true success.
2. 15th July: Today I booked my first driving lesson.
Weird to think this was three years ago. I didn’t have a part time job until I turned 17 (I know, shame on me!) and I got some start up money from my grandad to book my first lesson. This makes me notice that I was a bit slow on the uptake: I didn’t actually pass my test until the February just gone. I stopped lessons when I went to university, but it all worked out in the end when I could afford it.
What I Learned: You’re capable of accomplishing things, even when your mind tells you that you won’t be able to.
3. 18th September: Today I packed for a week at the hotel.
My freshers week was thrown off course when I, and my other flatmates, were informed building works were still underway and we had to spend our induction week in temporary accommodation. We spent it in a hotel. A weird way to go about it, but I’ll never forget the memory of spilling strawberries and cream liquor on the hotel bed sheets.
What I Learned: Respect the space of others and how to have fun under restrictions. Make the best out of a bad situation.
4. 28th October: Today I had my first date at Nando’s.
Okay, so boys wanted nothing to do with me until I went to university. 99.9% sure they thought I was a lesbian anyway. But a guy in my block took notice of me and asked me out. I thought it was a joke at first. But it wasn’t. I was so excited. I didn’t tell anyone for fear of ridicule, we went out to dinner, I stared awkwardly at my food the whole time, and I didn’t kiss him at the door when he saw me off because my flatmates were on the other side telling me I should ‘get some’. We dated for a good part of 8 months afterwards.
What I Learned: People are interested in you and what you have to say. Your opinion matters.
5. 20th December: Today I met Matthew*.
Matthew* wasn’t the centre of my day. I did meet him, but the main event was, dare I say it, the loss of my virginity. Sorry for the graphic content.
I met my boyfriend’s parents over a long weekend near Christmas and, at the time, thought he was too good to be true. I don’t regret it at all. I think back on it and I do remember the awkward (but now funny) initiation. It was certainly one way to wrap up the year of 2015.
What I Learned: Waiting until you’re ready is key. Don’t let social pressure, no matter how present, push you to do something you don’t want to do.
This year was probably the worst of the three I wrote about in my sentence a day journal. I felt like giving a little commentary on some entries:
1. 30th January: Today I saw Jacob* who looked like he was from 1973.
The day before my birthday. Jacob* was born the same day as I was, and we were both out celebrating. I used to think he was really cool back in primary school, but I was the quiet kid nobody really talked to or was interested in. And he had some cool guy’s haircut and was tall and good looking. Some time later after I ran into him, my mum told me she saw him out at a friend’s party. He told her I was really pretty. That was a big ‘I SHOWED YOU!’ moment in my life. The ugly little duckling known as me started feeling like a swan.
What I Learned: Self-improvement comes before the approval of others (although if you like the approval, that’s a bonus!)
2. 15th April: Today Hannah* told me her secret Ben* story.
This was the day I started feeling like a proper big sister. We weren’t close at all when we were younger, but she had recently started seeing her first boyfriend, who she’s still with today. She was crying in fear about what had happened with this guy, and I felt this overwhelming need to give her the best advice, even from hundreds of miles away at the time, and making note of it in my sentence a day.
What I Learned: What you think has influence over others. People trust you with their personal issues and you can help them.
3. 8th May: Today we went to Baltimore Abbey.
That day was a great day to begin. Our flat packed an end of year BBQ and we went out for the entire day. The sun shined all day. I was really happy the year was over and I’d get a summer with great friends and lovely boyfriend. And then my mum called me, holding back tears.
My grandad, who was supposed to go back home the next day, had passed away.
I held back the news as I didn’t want to break in front of everyone. But I did while waiting for the bus with the boyfriend. He held me a bought me a Lucozade when we got back. I went into a shell and didn’t talk for a few weeks after that.
What I Learned: It’s okay to let people know you’re sad. You don’t always have to be so upbeat for others.
4. 20th July: Today Bethany* treated me to Red Hot.
We were in Liverpool at the time. My boyfriend at the time texted me asking me to take our relationship status off Facebook a few days after our breakup. I was fuming at the dinner table and we ordered mojitos and bitched about why boys suck.
What I Learned: Some people will do whatever they want in the end, as long as it suits them.
5. 7th November: Today I curled up with hot chocolate.
This was the lowest point during uni. My close friends found me crying on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea on the floor next to me. It was going to be my one-year anniversary with the guy I was still in love with, and he wanted next to nothing to do with me. They told me to pick myself up, because this wasn’t me and he wasn’t worth it. Writing down in mt sentence a day journal really helped me get through it.
What I Learned: Relationships break down, but this isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it brings about great change.
This year felt like it was coming up a little in my sentence a day journal. I was planning for my third year at university and thought about how it was all coming to an end.
1. 14th January: Today the popo were useless and Calum* killed the suspense.
I still find it difficult to sleep in a house alone again after this night. There was a break in when I was home alone, as my housemates were all home for the weekend. I panicked in my room for a few hours, called the police, my mother and my friend Calum*, who came round to keep an eye on me and played Mario Kart with me to calm me down.
What I Learned: Never feel like you can’t call on the help of others.
2. 5th February: Today Bubble and Squeak entered the family.
For my 20th birthday, I decided I wanted to get dwarf hamsters. The names were pre-selected. The decision was made when Bubble was literally an orb and Squeak *squeaked* when I was holding him. Bubble passed last month (RIP old boy, I miss you!) and Squeak buries himself in his bedding to this day. They were great company during my time at university.
What I Learned: You have to be responsible and taking care of another living thing can sometimes be tricky.
3. 20th May: Today I got sweets sent up.
I worked in a kitchen as a cook for a total of two months. The company had very bad staff turnover, and I’d dread turning up. One time, I cried before shift because I was just that unhappy to be there. Though I saw tiny perks in the job, I couldn’t bring myself to quit for fear of my parent’s disapproval. But I did, and I’d never go back again.
What I Learned: You’re worth more than the bare minimum. Don’t feel obligated to stay somewhere where you’re not appreciated.
4. 4th September: Today Ellie* rode The Big One and went to Pop World.
We went to Blackpool on a girl’s weekend. Got drunk in our hotel room, having vodka lemonades in mugs and dancing on the bed to Taylor Swift. My friend Ellie*, who hates rollercoasters, came on The Big One with us (after some convincing!) and loved it. We went on it multiple times that day.
What I Learned: Sometimes you don’t know how much you’re missing out on until you try it. Treasure our friends and make time to spend with them.
5. 23rd December: Today a customer made me reconsider my life goals.
It was a late shift at my new job. A customer started asking me about my degree and what I planned to do with it. I told her I liked tutoring kids and might want to work in a primary school down the line. She not only suggested I’d hate doing that, but that the job I was doing wasn’t suitable for after graduation. But I’m still at that same job to this day.
What I Learned: If you’re happy where you are, don’t feel compelled to do what people expect you to do.
And here we are in my sentence a day journal. I can for sure say this year has been the best one of my life so far. To be honest, I stopped writing sometime around April. I had a weird four months before that. I had all these conflicts of guys messing me around and the fear and sadness of leaving university for good. I passed my driving test after my third attempt, like the work I do and met a guy who makes me feel needed.
Writing a sentence a day, while a great way to keep memories, also showed me the lessons I have learnt from the people in my life. I wouldn’t change those three years of learning and growing for anything.