An Old Soul Trapped in a Young Body

Lifestyle, Self-Help

Do you have a few moments from your childhood that stick out the most? Small moments that maybe only lasted a few seconds, but are ingrained in your head so perfectly and permanently? I have two moments just like.

I vividly remember being dropped off by my mother at a daycare when I was very young and again on my first day of elementary school. During both of those moments, I stood still after my mom left looking at all the other children run around the room. I remember standing there watching them shouting, playing, and having fun. On the first day of elementary school, I distinctly remember a boy running across the room with a huge smile on his face and chasing someone. Both of those times, I was taking in everything around me. Seeing the other kids, not knowing what to do, and wondering how long I would have to stay. I remember these two moments so perfectly because of how I felt. I remember looking at the children my age and feeling so out of place and so awkward, but more than anything I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t belong.

Those two separate days being dropped off at school stand out the most in my memory because they were the first times in my life that I realized I didn’t fit in with my age group. Although those may have been the first times, they certainly were not the last.

The reason why I’m writing this post today is because not too long ago I had an entire weekend where I felt this way. I experienced three full days of feeling awkward and alone and like I didn’t fit in. But I’m glad I did. It helped me become more comfortable with myself after that weekend. Those three days made me deeply self-reflective and overwhelmed me with flashbacks from countless moments where I felt like an alien among my peers. I was reminded of how hard it had been to fit in and how stressful it was spending my 24 years of life fighting with who I was. As uncomfortable and emotional as it was, that weekend helped me to finally let go and accept myself for who I am – an old soul trapped in a young body. A person who’s oddly mature for their age and who’s tired of pretending to be something that I’m not. And just like that I learned to finally love and accept that part of my personality.

That experience also gave me the inspiration to create this post to share a glimpse of what it’s like growing up as an old soul in a young body. This week’s post is a bit different from what I typically write about. It’s much more introspective and gives you a bit of a peak behind the curtain about what shaped me to become the person I am now – someone who’s not comfortable with the mainstream standards of doing things and wants to share my own story and advice to help others who share a similar experience.

Growing up as an Old Soul

I’ve always been an old soul ever since I could remember and before I even knew what being an “old soul” meant.

As I was growing up, Nancy was like a second grandma to me. She’s my grandmother’s best friend of many years and she was always around whenever the family got together for holidays or reunions. I was very close to her growing up, and she would always tell me that I was an old soul. That there was something in my eyes that told her I was “well beyond my years.”

Teachers, neighbors and my parent’s friends would describe me as being “mature for my age.” Friends and peers would describe me as being “a mom.” And my family would make jokes about how old I was and call me the names of my great-grandma or my grandmothers: Virginia, Penny, and Joanne. 

I didn’t understand what all of that meant as I was growing up. All I knew was that I would have rather spent my time talking with the adults in my life or playing cards with my grandpa than playing with other kids at a children’s birthday party. As a child and even a teenager, I really enjoyed the company of adults and the conversations I would have with them. That’s when I felt comfortable. That’s where I felt like I fit in and I was myself.

I didn’t like sports, or large groups, or birthday parties. I followed the rules, listened to adults, and didn’t rebel. I was also very introverted and very much a homebody (maybe because I’m a textbook Cancer). I liked being at home doing my own thing and I would tend to ask myself big questions like, “Why are we here? What do I want to do when I grow up? What kind of life do I want? What do I believe in spiritually?” I was a very introspective person which made having small talk about the weather or what classes I was taking seem excruciating. 

As a teenager, I spent almost every moment that I was at home drinking tea, wearing cardigans, reading. Whenever I was invited to do something where I knew everyone would be making bad decisions, I made up excuses to get myself out of it and told people that I was grounded. Lol. And now when I share that fun fact with friends today, I get a lot of laughs and end up being called a nerd for the rest of the night.

My point is, I’ve always been an old soul since before I could even spell my own name. This was my childhood, my young adulthood, and now my twenties. 

The Plus Side 

Part of me really loved being an old soul, especially when I was very young. I felt like I understood the world in a different way than my peers. I already felt like a bit of a grown up even before I matured. For that reason, adults liked me very much. I could hold a meaningful conversation with teachers and neighbors without being short or uncomfortable like most of my friends told me they felt. And I also kept to myself, didn’t talk back, and followed the rules. I wasn’t one to give the babysitters or a substitute teacher a hard time. 

As I got older I wasn’t a trouble maker. I had no desire to party or experiment with drugs or sneak out of the house. I had no desire to smoke cigarettes as a minor or steal alcohol or become one of the “popular” aka slutty girls. There was no pent up feeling in me that would only be happy by rebelling and making bad decisions. 

For that reason, I felt like being an old soul was a blessing. I’m sure it saved me from many arguments, and fights, and groundings. It kept me out of trouble and it kept me safe because I was content with the simple things. I wasn’t trying to tell my parents that I was going to a sleepover at some girl’s house when really I was going to a party. I felt fulfilled just having a conversation with my mom, spending the weekend with my grandparents, watching a documentary, or writing a paper. I was happy just relaxing at home and I enjoyed my own company.

The Pressure to Fit In

However, being an old soul as a child and teenager made growing up very challenging. I felt like I was the only old soul and introvert around. I wasn’t “cool” by any means and I’m pretty sure the “popular” kids didn’t even know my name. I was also called boring A LOT. Because I didn’t fit in, and I wasn’t rebellious, or outgoing, or immature I naturally had fewer friends. My demeanor in school and in groups of people my age was described to me by everyone that I eventually became friends with as “intimidating.”

For most of my life, I absolutely hated the way that I was. Growing up, all you want is to be accepted, to be liked, to fit in at school, and to have close friends. But for most of my life, I was the odd one out and never really felt like I belonged. I got called lame, boring, mom, nerd – all of the things. I could give countless examples from when I was 4 years old to 24 of times when people put me down and made me feel bad about myself because I was acting too mature or reserved for their liking.

I seemed to be so different than everyone else and all I wanted to be like them. Even when I did meet people who I really wanted to spend time with, a lot of times they wouldn’t invite me to hang out because something about me was just different. I also noticed that I missed out on bonding with certain people because I didn’t have those memories of making bad decisions that bring people together. I just wasn’t interested in “blowing off steam” and “getting it out of my system,” whatever IT is.

I wasn’t interested in the same things as everyone my age or behaved the same way as them. It seemed like I either had to say or do things to fit in and impress my peers or get ridiculed. It was a double edged sword – no matter what choice I made I was unhappy. Connecting with people my age never came natural or easy. 

A few times growing up I would end up being liked by one of the “popular” girls, and when that happened I learned to not get close to them or accept their invitation. It wouldn’t take long before they realized that I didn’t fit in. That I wasn’t cool enough, or slutty enough, or spontaneous enough, or fun enough or whatever it was about me that made me a misfit. 

My nature also impacted my first romantic relationship and caused so many fights. Neither one of us could understand the other person. We fought because I apparently never wanted to have fun and because all he wanted to do was party. I couldn’t understand the desire to spend every moment of your life getting high and drinking Miller Lite, and he couldn’t understand the desire to stay home, watch movies, and talk about life. 

The other big challenge was that even though I felt more like a grown-up, I wasn’t actually viewed as one. I was still just a kid or “a stupid teenager” as my mom loved to say. I was still lumped into the category of immature young people who “just don’t get it.” There were times when I fit right in the adults, but there were times when I was viewed as too immature and I would be left out of conversations because things were too grown up for me to hear or understand. This created another big challenge for me as an old soul trapped in a young body, because I was never fully accepted by any age group growing up and for that reason, I’ve always believed that there was something really wrong with me.

After 24 years now, I’ve also learned from experience that being an old soul and by being myself, I can also have a very strange effect on others – particularly the people who are the opposite of me. I’ve learned that by being an old soul it tends to make the.. shall we say “younger” souls uncomfortable, which has made me a target and further made me unhappy with who I was. 

When I was in a group or at a party, for instance, people would become bothered by the fact that my personality wasn’t mirroring everyone else. In their minds it means there’s something wrong with me, that I’m not having fun, that I’m uptight, or that I need someone to swoop in and help me enjoy the party. They would try to get to me “relax” by trying to pressure me into taking shots, or doing drugs, or dancing no matter how much I said, “No thanks.” It seems that my maturity tended to make some people become self-conscious and as a result, they would single me out until I got fed up and decided to go home.

Think about it, whenever everyone is standing in a circle doing shots, and you’re the one person who doesn’t feel like drinking, there’s always that one a**hole who’s really bothered by it. That one person who’s uncomfortable by someone who’s not drinking and decides to make it their personal mission to get you to “loosen up,” get drunk, and “have some fun.” Meanwhile, they’re completely unaware that you were having a perfectly good time before they tried to step in and force feed you tequila. And it’s always that same person who keeps asking, “Why aren’t you having fun?” I’ve had more moments like this in my life than I can count.

I could go on and on with examples of how being an old soul in a young body has made my experience growing up a weird one. As much as I wanted to change though, it just wasn’t possible. You can’t make yourself become something that you’re not. There are some things about yourself that you just cannot change. You can’t make yourself an extrovert or an introvert, or taller or shorter, or gay or straight. There comes a point in time when you realize that no matter how much the world wants you to change and how different you might be from the majority, that you just have to accept yourself the way that you are.

Self Acceptance 

Even as a 24-year-old, I still have moments that are strikingly similar to those childhood memories where I was surrounded by people my age and all I can think about is how out of place I am. That one particular weekend was the most recent and the most eye opening.

For the first time in a long time I was so uncomfortable and felt so out of place for such an extended period of time that it occurred to me that I’ve felt this way my entire life. When I’m not being made fun of and ridiculed for being the way that I am, I’m punishing myself for it. If other people aren’t making me feel bad, then I’m putting myself down for not trying hard enough, or fitting in better, or for being so different than everyone else. In that moment, I realized that I simply didn’t want to do it anymore. Being an old soul is just my nature. 

I love small groups, and books, and deep, meaningful conversations. I’m the type of person who prefers red wine and conversation over going to a club. It doesn’t matter how many pushy people try to get me to dance or how many people call me grandma, I can’t change myself to fit in with what the people my age consider to be acceptable.

I decided for the first time in my 24 years of life to embrace my nature and fully accept myself for who I am. I decided to surrender and stop fighting my personality and be okay “fitting out” in the crowd. From that moment on I was putting an end to the idea that there’s something wrong with me and that I need to change my personality and everything about myself for acceptance. Because if changing who I am and being fake is the only way to be accepted by the people my age, I don’t even want their acceptance or their social media likes and stamps of approval. I don’t care how many rude comments I get about how “old” or serious I am.

The week after I had three straight days of feeling out of place and hating myself for being different, I came back to St. Petersburg and joined a book club. I ended up spending an hour one day surrounded by women twice my age discussing a very thought-provoking book about managing life’s challenges and I LOVED it. I’m done trying to be something that I’m not to make someone else happy. I’m letting go of the people who make me feel bad about who I am and I’m letting go of the comparison. The comparison game that I always do in my head when I see other people who fit in so effortlessly. I’m letting go of all of that and learning to love, accept, and embrace who I am.

Even though being an old soul often makes me stand out and not fit in as well with the people my age, I know I’ll be happier just by being myself. Because you can’t flourish completely and reach your potential if you’re constantly at war with yourself. You spend too much mental energy trying to change that could be spent working on something to help you grow as a person or meeting the right kinds of people who align with you. That energy could be put towards something constructive like your side hustle, a new hobby, a project, or new relationships. And in the end you’ll be so much happier because you’re allowing yourself to be authentic.

Although this post is much more personal and introspective than most, I’m sharing this with you because self-help and wellness are major themes throughout my writing. I preach about the benefits of self-discovery and why I believe that self-reflection, journaling, and self-love is so important. Even though I write about self-help and wellbeing, just like you I’m also a work in progress. I’m still discovering different parts of myself each year and still learning to love and accept my so-called “flaws.” 

I usually always end my posts with pieces of advice for my readers, but for this one, I have no special advice. Instead, I wanted to leave you with a few takeaways.

Takeaways

1. My experience

The main takeaway that I want people to get from this post if nothing else is the experience of growing up as an old soul. Because it’s not very common, being mature as a child and teenager can be viewed as a bad thing. When children are very young, it could be viewed as being shy, or closed off, or considered that they’re a problem child – as if their maturity is somehow going to make them fall behind in school. Then as these kids mature as teenagers, being an old soul becomes an even bigger problem as it’s not as easy to fit in. I could name dozens of instances in my life where I’ve received subtle (and not so subtle) messages that there was something wrong with me, that me being reserved or mature wasn’t socially acceptable. I know I’m not the only person who grew up with this experience. What I want people to understand more than anything is that it’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing that needs to be changed about these children, and that their maturity should be seen as a blessing and should be nurtured not suppressed. 

2. Be kind to old souls 

Being an old soul has impacted me in the majority of my relationships and social activities throughout my life. It’s caused arguments with people who wanted me to be different and I’ve been put down by countless peers, many of whom I didn’t even know personally. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences it will teach people to have compassion for old souls. Subtle messages and jokes that children hear throughout their lives DO impact their mental and emotional health and make them believe that they’re unlikeable just because they might not be exactly like the majority. Even though some children may be unusually mature for their age, they shouldn’t be put down for it. And remember there are much worse personality traits to have then being mature!

3. Embrace who you are

If you are an old soul yourself, there’s no point in trying to make yourself something that you’re not. It’s takes too much time, energy, and work and in the end all it does is make you unhappy. You can’t change your personality no matter how much fight who you are. Instead, embrace who are. Once you stop fighting your inherent nature and learn to embrace it, you realize that it’s not as big of a deal as you once thought. I used to constantly fight who I was and do or say things in an effort to fit in, but the moment I accepted my personality and spent my time doing what fulfilled me in the moment I started to feel happier and less like an outsider. I signed up for courses and classes, I read more, I learned about spirituality, and I started to feed that side of me that I tried to suppress for so long because it wasn’t cool. I stopped putting myself in situations where I wasn’t comfortable and did what felt right for me. And if that meant passing up a party and staying in on the weekends to watch documentaries then I would do that. If that meant joining a book club then I would do that. Interestingly, what I’ve learned from embracing who I am and staying true to me is that the more confident you are about yourself, the less people give you a hard time. 

4. Self-ассерtаnсе is a process

My fourth takeaway if you’re an old soul yourself is to accept who you are and to love and respect yourself. As you grow up, you start to realize that there’s parts of you that don’t match the majority or that people don’t think are cool, and there comes a time when you have to let it go and learn to accept that although you might be different there’s nothing wrong with you. This self-acceptance lеаdѕ tо соntеntmеnt bесаuѕе уоu’rе nо lоngеr fighting with уоurѕеlf and playing this internal tug of war but instead finding peace with who you are.

Now trust me, I understand how hard self-acceptance can be. When you’ve had messages throughout your entire life that there’s something wrong with you it can be really difficult to make the switch towards self-love and acceptance. It’s also much easier said than done. I understand that you can’t tell someone else to accept themselves and then it magically happens, it’s something that people have to learn on their own. And even then, it’s a process. There are the days when you slip up and start feeling upset with yourself again and have to remember to be compassionate. But remember, everyone has things that they don’t adore about themselves and we all have our own things that we have to make peace with, you’re not the only one. At the very least, start the process of self-love and acceptance in any way that it feels comfortable to you. Maybe it’s therapy, or yoga, or journaling, or affirmations. It is a process, but it’s worth it. 

5. It gets better 

My last takeaway that I want to leave my fellow old souls with, is that it gets better. The good thing about being an old soul is that you slowly start growing into your age and your peers start to grow up as well. Once you get out of school there are fewer moments where you feel like a misfit and you’re free to live your life however you want without the pressure of trying to find social acceptance among hundreds of teenagers. Year by year it gets better. Truthfully, growing up can be slightly awkward as an old soul, but when you think about it growing up is awkward for everyone! Each person has their own unique challenges and issues that they have to work through, this one was just mine. But if you’re an old soul just like me, know that you’re not alone, you’re not weird, and you’re not lame. And also, I’m down to get tea any day.

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments! Are you an old soul or do you know someone who is? If you are an old soul, what was your experience growing up? Did you find social acceptance or did you find yourself being put down? How do you suggest we nurture children and teenagers who are old souls to help them thrive? If you are an old soul have you learned to love and accept that aspect of your personality? Is there many another personality trait that you’re working on loving and embracing about yourself? I would LOVE to hear from you. 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It + INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Self-Help

Did you know that 99% of life’s greatest problems could be solved with stream of consciousness journaling?

Ok, I made that up. But in case you didn’t know this about me, I’m a huge fan of stream of consciousness journaling. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. Journaling has gotten me through my worst days, helped me to realize my passion in life, gave me the courage to be myself, and strengthened my spirituality.

That’s why I’m a huge advocate for using stream of consciousness journaling for self-help and self-discovery. It’s why I mention it in many of my blog posts, talk about it on social media, and recommend it to those who reach out to me for advice.

However, as someone who wants to spend all day everyday writing, I was surprised by how few people actually practice stream of consciousness journaling or know what it is! WHAT? Does not everyone spend hours a day writing? What do they do with their time? So today I wanted to explain what you need to know about stream of consciousness journaling and why this simple activity is so beneficial. I’ll also talk about how to incorporate stream of consciousness journaling into your life for those who are curious about it and are interested in starting.

I really wish that more people would regularly do stream of consciousness journaling. It’s a freeing, introspective, and therapeutic method that helps you work through life’s challenges and improve every aspect of your life for a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness. It may not solve 99% of life’s problems but I honestly believe that if more people implemented this simple act into their daily routine, the world would be a much better place.

Make sure to stay until the very end of the post to learn how you could win my Gratitude Journal Giveaway!

What is stream of consciousness journaling?

What stream of consciousness isn’t is a narrative, a story, or a diary. It’s not meant for you to provide a timeline or create an autobiography. It’s not a description of your day.

Stream of consciousness journaling is when you write whatever is in your head, completely unfiltered. You write every thought just as is, exactly how it’s flowing through your mind. Curse words, improper grammar, subject changes and all. You write about anything and everything that’s going through your mind. You don’t plan it, you don’t wonder what you should write next. You pick a topic, like something that’s bothering you, and you write down everything.

It’s meant to be very messy. You don’t worry at all about spelling, grammar, or run-on sentences, because it’s probably the only type of writing that’s not meant to be read. It’s an exercise, it’s a therapeutic method. And if you’re doing it correctly, trust me, you will NEVER want to read it. You’re brain-dumping all of the emotions, all the stressors, the challenges, the problems, the insecurities, and the things you don’t want people to know about you and putting them on paper to clear your mind.

It’s not like any other writing because there’s no structure and there are no rules – no editing, no five-paragraph format, not even an intro or a conclusion. It’s your brain! It doesn’t follow rules! And that’s why the most important thing to remember is to not be critical of it or worry about how it reads because it will never be read! That’s why it’s so freeing.

PRO TIP: Relax about it.

It’s not weird! Stop thinking it’s weird!

I noticed that the one thing that turns people away from journaling is that they associate writing down their thoughts in a journal with a 14-year-old girl writing in her pink “diary” about the boy she has a crush on and the girl she doesn’t like a school. It seems adolescent or immature. It seems like something that isn’t socially acceptable. But it’s not a diary. Trust me, I had diaries as a kid. (Not that there’s anything wrong with having a diary.)

Stream of consciousness journaling is a therapeutic technique that is beneficial for anyone and everyone no matter what their age or gender. However, you won’t reap those benefits unless you calm down and stop judging yourself for doing it. The first few times you do it may be weird, because you’ve never seen your own thoughts on paper before, but it does get easier and it starts to feel more natural and more freeing the more you practice it.

The very real benefits of stream of consciousness journaling

Why is it beneficial? The reason why I preach about stream of consciousness journaling all the time is that I’ve seen so many benefits from it, particularly when I started to do it regularly. By making it a part of my nightly routine I saw that it started to change my mood and my mindset so I felt happier all day, even when I wasn’t journaling. It allowed me to put the challenges and the negativity down on paper instead of carrying it with me. That’s why after making it a part of my daily life, I believe in it wholeheartedly and think that the world would be a much happier and better place if everyone adopted this simple activity.

Here are the top 11 reasons why stream of consciousness journaling is beneficial in hopes that it will inspire you to start today…

1. It allows you to purge

The number one benefit that everyone can agree on about stream of consciousness journaling is that it gets everything down on paper or your computer so those thoughts don’t keep circling in your head. It allows you to take a load off and to get rid of the baggage that distracts you from feeling content and at peace. I didn’t even know how cluttered and chaotic my mind was until I started journaling and noticed how much calmer and clearer my mind was afterward. I didn’t realize how much the thoughts and stressors had been building up and weighing on me until they were finally gone. I had gotten so used to the stress little by little that I couldn’t remember life without it.

2. It stops thoughts from amplifying

You know how when something is bothering you or stressing you out, your mind does this exciting thing where it continues to amplify the problem? You’ll be bothered by something that’s happened to you and suddenly your mind can make it a hundred times worse by building up the problem, thinking of all of the other bad things that could happen, thinking about how other people will think and feel, etc. Your mind goes from worrying about that passive-aggressive thing your boss said to suddenly convincing you that you could be fired, wondering what would happen if you got fired, stressing about bills, thinking about how you would feel, thinking about how a job loss could ruin your reputation, thinking about what your partner will think of you, or thinking about how you should act around your boss. The problem snowballs from one stressor into a full-blown life crisis in a matter of 15 minutes.

What stream of consciousness journaling does is it stops those thoughts from circling and amplifying in your mind. It prevents them from blowing up into something that ruins your day and your happiness with pointless worrying. It also makes you realize how extraordinarily unrealistic those thoughts can be once you actually write it down. That way it makes the problem more manageable and grounds you again instead of keeping you sucked into that miserable anxiety loop.

3. It helps you solve a problem

Stream of consciousness journaling is also incredibly beneficial for problem-solving and helping you make better decisions. And don’t we all need help with that! One way that it does this is by removing that clutter in your mind and preventing the negativity from amplifying, so you’re actually able to figure out a problem or what your next step should be because it removes those distractions. You have space to figure out what to do and come up with solutions.

Often times we’re also unable to figure out the root of a problem. There’s so much going on in our minds that you don’t really know what’s going on. There have been countless times where I’ve had life-changing epiphanies because writing about a problem allows me to peel back the layers and find out what’s really going on deep down in my subconscious mind. This journaling allows you to discover how certain circumstances have been triggered that reminds you of an event or person from your past. What journaling has taught me that your mind is kind of like an onion, and onions have layers. You have to peel back plenty of layers on the top to get to the center of the problem and figure out what’s really bothering you. (If you didn’t get that Shrek reference, I don’t know if we can be friends).

Lastly, stream of consciousness journaling helps you solve problems by discovering what’s actually best for YOU. One of the major lessons I learned in my senior year of college and after graduating college is that everyone and their mother thinks that they are an expert on what is best for me. Everyone seems to think they know the perfect place for me to live, the perfect way to go about finding a job, the perfect career path, the best way to invest money, the best freaking house that I should buy, the best time to get a pet, etc. Everyone has a major opinion about how you, and I, and everyone else should be living our best life.

But here’s the thing, only YOU know what is best for YOU. Other people may have ideas and opinions based on their own experience, but just because something works for another person and makes sense for their life, doesn’t mean that it makes sense to you. Stream of consciousness journaling helps you separate the outside opinions and uncover what makes the most sense for you.

4. It reduces stress

Immediately after stream of consciousness journaling, I always notice an incredible sense of relief. Do you know how you get a runner’s high after a nice long run where you feel refreshed, happy, and uplifted? That’s sort of how I feel after a long journaling session where I release any of the drama, stresses, or insecurities that I’ve been dealing with. By the end of an hour of a long writing session, I feel an enormous sense of relief. It clears why mind and relaxes me so I can feel happy and free of stress.

However, it’s not just immediately after journaling where you’re able to feel this sense of release. By incorporating it into your daily routine and releasing that stress each and every time, you’ll notice that over time you’ll be less anxious in general. You’re incorporating a therapeutic exercise into your life and you’re dealing with your problems in a healthy way so you can be happier, more relaxed, and more fulfilled all the time. I started to notice this feeling after about a month of journaling for half an hour to an hour each night and then following it with mediation. Side Note: Journaling also made meditation much easier so I started to feel the benefits from that practice as well.

5. It helps with self-discovery

One of the most interesting benefits to me about stream of consciousness journaling is how much it helps with self-discovery. I’ve always been an incredibly introspective person, but even I am blown away by how much you can learn more about yourself simply by writing down your thoughts. Engaging in regular self-reflection brings up things that you didn’t even realize about yourself. These could even be things that you thought about your whole life but haven’t been able to figure out.

I’ve spent many nights learning new things about myself that I’ve never noticed before or have been stumped on for years. The most significant one that comes to mind is how I learned of my passion and life’s purpose through journaling. I answered a prompt late one night and used stream of consciousness journaling, as I always do, and suddenly it hit me that my passion was self-help and wellness. At the exact moment, I was laying in bed surrounded by a pile of self-help books that were all highlighted and stuffed with notes. I listened to self-help podcasts, read self-help books for years, and envied the self-help writers that I knew of. But somehow it never occured to me that that’s what I wanted to do. My passion and purpose had been hiding right underneath my nose my whole life.

There are many nights when journaling did not lead to an epiphany, but there were also many nights when it did. Through exploring a new topic or answering a prompt that might not even stick out to you, it can pull information out that you may have ignored or kept buried for weeks, months, even years.

6. It improves mood

You’ll notice that when you get into the habit of journaling every day, you will slowly start to see a shift in your overall mood. You’re engaging in deep introspection that helps you learn about your self-sabotaging patterns, toxic relationships, dreams, hobbies, and past – which is not only rewarding, but also uplifting. After journaling for weeks or even months you’ll start to notice that you’re feeling content and more positive, and if you’re anything like me, you may notice that you no longer feel like you’re in a fog.

You begin to feel free from the things that weighed on your mind before and your mindset slowly starts to change for the better. I know I’m making big statements here, but after spending an hour of journaling each day for months, I saw this change myself. When you dedicate that much time to your mental health and wellness, you do begin to feel much happier and positive. All it takes is committing to it.

7. It helps you to become mindful

After journaling for such a long period of time, the self-reflection helps you to be more mindful. It helps you go about your day with intention and focus rather than letting the day pass you by in a blur of scrolling or stress. It makes each activity you do more thoughtful. It also alerts you to the behaviors or habits that you have that don’t support your health and happiness so you can make better choices throughout the day. Choices like not engaging with a negative person, using your free time wisely, taking care of your body, and saying goodbye to self-sabotaging habits.

8. It strengthens personal discipline

If you choose to start journaling as part of your morning or nighttime routine, you’re strengthening your personal discipline. You’re choosing to set aside time every day whether you’re in the mood to or not to engage in a healthy behavior. That alone strengthens your personal discipline, but you’ll notice that it soon starts to bleed into other areas of your life. By making yourself engage in one healthy behavior, before you know it you’re choosing to eat better, or exercise more, or go outside, or use social media with intention. Making one decision that contributes to your health, happiness, and growth inspires you to make those decisions elsewhere. Again, this is one of those changes that I didn’t notice until weeks of practicing stream of consciousness journaling regularly. A benefit like this doesn’t happen until you’ve committed to making it a ritual instead of an occasional activity.

9. It unlocks your creativity

I believe that purging all those stressors or insecurities through writing and freeing up your mind from the drama gives it more room to be creative. When I started incorporating stream of consciousness journaling into my life, I noticed that I suddenly had more ideas than I knew what to do with. That I was inspired more often and that I wanted to write even more. It’s actually when I put in a month of stream of consciousness journaling that I started to get serious about my blog and wanted to pursue writing as a career. I even started to branch out and write about topics that I don’t typically write about. It unlocked creativity and inspiration within me that I didn’t even realize existed.

10. It allows you to explore and strengthen your spirituality

I won’t dive too deeply into this because this isn’t a spirituality post, but I do want to touch on this subject. I’m Buddhist and believe that we’re all on our own journey and are experiencing this life to learn, grow, and become enlightened in some way. And I believe that self-discovery and self-help work allows you to do that. When I continued to do stream of consciousness journaling I started to evolve and to connect with a higher power like I never had before.

You may not have the same spirituality as me, but every spirituality or religion that exists encourages introspection and self-growth. No matter what you believe, journaling can help you to become a better version of yourself, strengthen your faith, and connect with a higher power.

I believe this happens through deep introspection, but also because once you’re free of stress, anxiety, and the problems amplifying in your mind, and you start to become mindful and it becomes easier tap into spirituality – just as journaling helped me unlock my creativity. Through stream of consciousness journaling, your mind is able to focus on more introspective and soulful pursuits rather than being distracted.

Through journaling I came to profound realizations that I used to read about in books, but had never fully understood because my mind was too busy. For example, I was able to comprehend how everything and everyone is connected, that we must let go of our stories to become our highest selves, that coincidences and universal signs happen all around me, and that each experience (even painful ones) are helping me to evolve and become the person that I was brought to this planet to be. It also helped me become aware of divine intervention and trust that the universe has my back, because through writing I could reflect on how circumstance, people, and events are slowly shaping me to become the person that I’ve always wanted to be.

11. It improves your writing

Don’t let the stream of consciousness technique fool you. Just because stream of consciousness journaling isn’t necessarily formal writing, with proper spelling, structure, and grammar, that doesn’t mean that it won’t help you to become a better writer. After I put in hours of journaling, I started to realize that I began to find my voice. My writing became even more conversational, vulnerable, snarky, and honest. I found my own style that didn’t conform to what I had learned in school my whole life. But just as Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

The other way that it helps with writing is by forcing yourself to write every day, no matter what it is, writing anything becomes easier. When you write any paper, blog post, report, depiction, etc. it’s so much easier to do because you’ve been using those muscles regularly. You become a better writer even accidentally because you’ve been practicing each day, even if it didn’t feel like you were.

Ok, I get it, but what do I write about?

The biggest issue that people tend to have about this type of writing is that they don’t know what to write about. Many people struggle about what to write because the vast majority of people don’t write unless they have to for work or for school when there’s someone telling them what, when, and how to write. But the beauty of stream of consciousness writing is you can write about anything. You can write about your family, relationships, stressors, your day, traumas, your bucket list, your perfect day, your dreams, your goals, etc. You can write about anything that you feel pulled to write about that day.

I personally like to write about whatever is stressing me out or weighing on my mind. Whatever is bothering me that day is what I’m writing about, and by doing that I feel like I’m liberated from all those negative thoughts once I write them down. I’m not a huge fan of journal prompts because they don’t offer me that same benefit which is purging the clutter and chaos in my mind, but occasionally I use them to help me with self-discovery on the days when I feel like being more introspective.

But prompts can still be incredibly beneficial, especially if you’re new to journaling. One of my followers and readers I talked to about stream of consciousness journaling was overwhelmed when I told him that you can write about anything and said that he needed more direction to get into journaling. So if you are having a difficult time figuring out what to write, consider picking a prompt first to get you warmed up. You can still do stream of consciousness journaling and “brain dump” even if you’re using a prompt for inspiration. Writing about anything could seem intimidating and this type of writing can be particularly difficult to get used to if you’ve never journaled before. Luckily there is no shortage of journal prompts available to you.

If you’d like to check out journal prompts, head over to my “Self-Discovery” Pinterest Board. I regularly pin prompts to help you with introspection, self-love, discipline, and motivation, so you can always use that as a resource. For now, here are some of my favorite prompts to help get your writing flowing today…

30 Journal Prompts to get you started

  1. How are you… really?
  2. Something I thought a lot about as a child was…
  3. One thing that I really need to work on is…
  4. Describe one thing that you are the proudest of yourself for.
  5. Describe one person that you admire the most today and why.
  6. The quality I admire most in others is…
  7. When I was little I wanted to be…
  8. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  9. What would you do if you knew for certain that you wouldn’t fail?
  10. If I could be a go-to person for anything it would be…
  11. One thing that I am the most passionate about is…
  12. Who are you the most envious of and why?
  13. When people first meet me, I hope they feel…
  14. What do you need more of in your life?
  15. What skills do you wish you had the most?
  16. What do you love about yourself?
  17. What are your priorities at the moment?
  18. The last time that I truly felt alive was…
  19. What hobbies would you love to try?
  20. What can you do to take better care of yourself?
  21. At the end of my life, the legacy that I want to leave is…
  22. Where do you see yourself in six months? A year? 5 years? 10 years?
  23. How can you feel more fulfilled in your life?
  24. Set 3 short term goals and 3 long term goals for yourself and write why you chose them.
  25. What are your 5 favorite ways to relax and fill you up?
  26. What limiting beliefs are holding you back from fulfilling your dream life?
  27. What actions can you take to simplify your life?
  28. What does happiness mean to you?
  29. What is your dream job?
  30. If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be and why?

Bonus: End with Gratitude

Now, if you really want to see the maximum benefits from journaling as I talked about above, I recommend ending each and every stream of consciousness journaling practice with gratitude. There are countless testimonials, studies and experiments that prove that incorporating gratitude into your daily life can improve your mental and emotional state and help you become more successful. That’s why thousands of successful people, celebrities, influencers, and change makers swear by a daily gratitude practice and owe their accomplishments to their simple gratitude ritual.

Even Oprah has a daily gratitude practice and swears that her daily gratitude journal has brought her the most joy, allowed her to keep up the stamina to build her empire, and attract a fan base that completely aligns with her message. Her gratitude practice is simply writing down 5 things that she feels grateful for each and every day – even if it’s something incredibly simple. Today, there are thousands of articles and videos that you can find online where successful people share their gratitude practice and open up about how it impacted their life and allowed them to be happier. Each practice may be slightly different, but it proves that incorporating gratitude practice or a gratitude journal into your routine improves your life in more ways than one.

My gratitude practice

Personally I’ve found that jotting down 3, 5, or 10 things that I’m grateful for is not enough for me. Writing down a bullet point isn’t enough to bring me that overwhelming sense of gratitude that has the potential to change my mindset and my life. Many people swear that their bullet journal changed their life, but I’ve had no success with it. Instead, I incorporate gratitude in my own way. At the end of each journaling session, I pick one thing that I’m grateful for that day and write about it in detail. It could be an insightful conversation with a stranger, or my partner, or an accomplishment – but whatever it is I write at least a paragraph about it. I write about what it is I’m grateful for and why I feel so happy to have this thing in my life. By writing in detail about one thing in particular it helps me feel a heightened sense of gratitude and completely shifts my mindset towards a positive one. It’s impossible to feel crappy after I finish my own gratitude practice.

It’s GIVEAWAY Time!

Since I’m such a huge believer in practicing journaling and gratitude each and every day and I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for months, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity for another Instagram Giveaway! I will be giving away a beautiful and super colorful daily gratitude journal to one lucky winner on my Instagram @heather.ione. It’s a gorgeous and lightweight journal that you can take with you anywhere to make it nice and easier to get yourself into your own daily gratitude practice! Make sure to head over there today to see how you could this beautiful little book, that I completely fell in love with because it 100% reminds me of my favorite book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope that you enjoyed learning about stream of consciousness writing, the benefits, and how to incorporate it in your daily life. And I hope that you can take something away from it that will be beneficial to you. I’ve seen this simple ritual impact my life like nothing else before. I swear by stream of consciousness journaling and I believe in its ability to improve our mental stage and make us happier. It’s a topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for many months on the blog in hopes that it could help others and inspire them to start journaling too.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Was this post helpful to you? Did you learn anything? Do you do stream of consciousness journaling? Did you see any benefits of your own? If so, what were they? And do you have your own gratitude practice?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

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I Interview Best-Selling Poet Jennae Cecelia: Answers to My Burning Questions on Self-Love, Social Media, Pursuing Passions, & Body Positivity + Instagram GIVEAWAY

Interviews, Self-Help

Discovering Poetry

Have you ever been bored in the very late hours of the night, and before you know it you’re sucked into the abyss that is Amazon.com? Well, about a year ago, I was having one of those nights. I had just read Rupi Kaur’smilk and honey” and her new book “the sun and her flowers” just came out. It was also around the time when Allie Michelle’sExplorations of a Cosmic Soul” was published as well. So I was in a serious poetry mood. And I kept falling victim to that sneaky little section that says “Customers who bought this item also bought … ” Unlike most times, it was actually one of the few nights where I didn’t regret those extra purchases.

After I first started to read poetry, I knew that I had found something special. There was something about it that was just so real, so vulnerable, and so unapologetically authentic that I found myself turning page after page of poetry books while the tears kept flowing. We live in a time when everyone and everything is so curated, so perfect, and so ridiculously happy, that I loved how I finally had the chance to read someone’s hidden emotions. Where I could identify with someone who was also going through a moment of depression or a breakup or struggling with self-confidence and cry with them and say to myself, “Yes, I feel it too.” Poetry made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the messy moments of life that lay between the filtered photos. The times when I fought with family when I was too scared to be myself and follow a dream, and the times when I seriously doubted myself.

Poetry is raw and it tells the truth. The truth that people so rarely speak out loud and that we rarely find on social media. One of the gems I found that night was a book that jumped out at me, that I still pick up and leaf through to this day, Jennae Cecelia’s, “Uncaged Wallflower.”

Meet Best-Selling Poet, Jennae Cecelia

Unlike many poetry books, “Uncaged Wallflower” has a very uplifting message. One that was written by a fellow introvert “for those who need an extra dose of positivity in their day and push to follow their dreams.” So obviously, I devoured the book in one sitting. There’s nothing I love more than a good “follow your dreams” message. I still remember that I was so excited about the new find that I actually looked up Jennae on Instagram and followed her account. Since then, I’ve been a loyal follower and fangirl of hers.

Jennae is unlike many influencers out there today. She continues to post, speak, and write about self-love, self-care, mental health, and body positivity. She posts vulnerable content that many wouldn’t share because it’s not “insta-worthy” and she actually talks to her audience like real people.

I followed and liked along as she shared photos of her acne, her stretch marks, and her no- makeup selfies. I watched her rally other young women to be vulnerable and love themselves even though they may be “flawed.” I watched her share her self-love journey, her struggle with anxiety, and her passion for poetry and photography. I watched her in awe. It’s so rare to see others being so real and so themselves through a screen.

Over the last few years, Jennae has put so much good out for her readers on social media, published five different poetry books, and became a best-selling poet. Her authenticity, her poetry, and her positivity are what finally lead me to reach out to her and ask for an interview.

I’m so grateful and honored that Jennae was not only willing to have me interview her for over an hour on the phone AND that she was so understanding when my recorder gave up and she had to write out her answers for all of you (:

What I learned in the time we spent talking was that she is just as friendly, positive, and real in person as in social media. She opened up to me about her self-love journey, struggling with judgment and criticism from family and friends, her decision to follow her passion, her persistence to inspire other young women, and how she stays sane even while being a social media influencer.

Here are Jennae’s answers to my burning questions! I hope you enjoy, and I hope her message sparks inspiration in you too. Make sure to stay until the very end for a special GIVEAWAY!

Uncaged Conversations

Q: How old were you when you started poetry? And how did you get into it?

A: I was in high school when I first started writing poetry. It was my way of expressing the emotions I was feeling during hard times. I didn’t start taking it more seriously until my third year of college when I started taking creative writing classes. Then when I met my boyfriend I told him about all the poems I had written and he told me I should make a book out of them. So I did!

Q: Did you know at the time that you had discovered your passion? Or did it build slowly?

A: I always was very passionate about writing, but I didn’t expect it to be much more than a hobby for me. When I first started sharing my writing on social media I just did it in hopes someone else would find comfort in my words. Never did I even think to imagine what it could become.

Q: What happens with a lot of people who go into a creative profession is they take a lot of backlash from people. Did you receive any criticism or judgment from people when you decided to become a poet?

A: My family and friends were supportive at first. They were excited I was writing books and that I was seeing success. However, when I told everyone I was going to be a writer as my full-time job I received so much criticism for doing so from these same people who claimed to support me. They supported it being a hobby, but not a career.

Q: Was it difficult opening up publicly in the beginning? Or not so much? I know I felt super vulnerable once I started to share my voice, not just as a random girl on Instagram, but as a blogger who focuses on mental well-being and my journey.

A: It was hard at first, but mostly because I was afraid of what people I personally knew would think. I am the type of person who can talk to a group of 200 people I don’t know very well about super personal topics, but I would be so anxious talking to a small group of close friends about the same topics.

Q: You obviously write a lot about self-care and self-love. I’ve read so many inspirational self-love messages from you, and I’ve even seen images where you’ve shown very real things like acne scars or stretch marks. I’m wondering, what was this self-love journey like for you? What was it like learning to love yourself and your imperfections?

A: I always say, “self-love is a journey with ever-changing scenery.” The things I didn’t like about myself when I was a teen, I have grown to love now. Now there are new things I find myself critiquing myself on. Loving yourself fully is not easy. However, I have started thanking my body every morning for all the amazing things it does. I always say three things like: I am thankful for my hands that allow me to write words of inspiration; I am thankful for my legs that allow me to go on long hikes with my boyfriend; and I am thankful for my lungs that allow me to take deep breaths in and out when I get anxious.

Q: Today, you seem like such a confident person who pursues their passion and inspires other people to follow their dreams, embrace the journey, and love themselves. But were there ever times that you felt really unsure of yourself and struggled with self-discovery as you were trying to navigate through all these different outside influences (societal norms, social media, family expectations).

A: Oh yes. I constantly say that the 15-year-old me would probably roll her eyes in annoyance at some of the things I say now because I have become such an optimistic person, and it was not always that way. From 13-20 it was all about self-discovery. Learning who I did and didn’t want to be. Making lots of mistakes. Doing things just to please friends and fit in. However, as much as I am not proud of some of my choices in life if I didn’t do those things I wouldn’t be this person I am today. That doesn’t mean that I am doing everything perfect now, but I do have a better grasp on who I am which allows me to make choices for myself and not just to please other people.

Q: We live in a world that’s very filtered and photoshopped and curated to absolute perfection. Were you really nervous or hesitant to share that side of yourself with people online? The side that maybe wasn’t so #InstaWorthy.

A: I was at first, again mostly because I was afraid of people I personally know seeing my posts. When I shared a picture of my stretch marks I was scared to post it but I knew someone out there needed the message that went along with it. Same with the post I made showing all of my acne scars. Also, I have never once heard anything from the people I was worried about seeing it so it honestly just stopped mattering to me if they saw my more raw and personal posts.

Q: In my blog, I write a lot about how digital media, particularly social media, was the biggest challenge and obstacle for me. I noticed that it caused the most comparison and negative self-talk, and made me fixate on my looks and how I appeared to other people online. Did you have a similar struggle having grown up online?

A: Definitely! I was a senior in high school when Instagram started becoming popular. However, it was to post pictures of your food using the Valencia filter. Social media has changed so much in the last 5-10 years. I feel like I have gotten over comparing myself to others on social media because I know that what most people post is not the whole story. I can’t imagine being in high school or even early college now and having that pressure of taking perfect pictures and looking perfect in them. Especially when you are at an age where people liking you matters so much. I mean, it still matters to people but that age you take it way more seriously.

Q: Does being an author and a content creator pose any challenges?

A: Being an author for me now means two things. Making time to do the creative side AND the business side.  For instance, today I had 15 emails I needed to reply to however, the creativity was flowing in my mind and I really just wanted to write. It can be hard to balance marketing, emails, social media, etc. and still set aside time to be creative. Luckily, I like the business side of being an author. I love it actually! But, it does take a lot of time away from doing my number one thing I love, just freely creating all day.

Q: Looking back at everything that you’ve gone through to become the person that you are today if you could give any advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

A: I would tell her this: all the roads you cross, the potholes you hit, the dead ends you reach, are shaping you into the person you are meant to be. Nothing is a coincidence, and mistakes are perfectly fine. Your beautiful soul is needed here more than you will ever know right now.

Q: How do you stay sane and stay grounded as a young woman during this overwhelming digital age? Do you have any practices or habits that make it easier?

A: I really enjoy meditating and gratitude journaling. They help me so much with keeping my mind more peaceful and reminding myself to forever be grateful.

Q: If there was any piece of advice that you would give to Lost Online readers who come to this platform for inspiration and to hear how they can stay sane during this overwhelming time? What would you say to them?

A: It is easy to get Lost Online, but don’t forget to wander through your real life.

Q: You have another book coming out soon! Any hints as to what it’s about?

A: It is a book focusing on self-care this time! I am super excited because it is a topic I am very passionate about.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I don’t know about you, but every time I read her words it puts me in a feel-good mood. If you’re ever in need of extra positivity or inspiration to follow your dreams and be unapologetically you, I would definitely recommend checking her content out. You can find Jennae on her website, on Instagram @jennaececelia, or on Amazon.

I’m also super excited because Jennae is starting a blog too! And I have no doubt that it will be wonderful. Make sure to stay in the loop with her so you can read it when it’s published! Jennae also has two more books coming out very soon, including “Losing Myself Brought Me Here.” I’m so excited to read it!

GIVEAWAY Time!

I will be hosting another Giveaway on my Instagram this week @heather.ione. Jennae has generously donated a SIGNED COPY of her Best-Selling Book “Uncaged Wallflower” to one of my followers! Make sure to go to my Instagram to read the details on how to win.

Lastly, I wanted to end with my favorite poem of Jennae’s from “Uncaged Wallflower” called “Command Your Passion.”

Remember to comment below! What’s your favorite poem or quote of hers? Which books have you read of Jennae’s? What do you think about her message? Which parts of this interview stuck out to you the most?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.