You all but collapse into bed, pulling the covers over you and staring at the ceiling. You grab your phone, even though 2,983 articles tell you not to, and go through four full Insta-scrolls of memes and photos of people you can’t identify. When you finally click your phone to the locked screen and set it on your dresser, you pull your comforter up to your shoulders and turn to your opposite side and think, What the fuck did I even do today?
That’s ^^^ how I concluded every single day in 2018.
All I remember from the last few months of last year was how little I remembered.
I tore through each day feeling as though I barely had time to breathe, getting to the end of it unable to pinpoint exactly WHAT was so devastatingly urgent.
I hate that feeling.
The last time I felt that way I still worked at an office. I worked twelve hour days and can’t tell you a single thing I accomplished within those hours. It was one of—if not the—top reasons I decided not to return to work. I wanted to have days worth remembering.
For three-ish years, this site was a loose chronological excerpt from my life.
If I were to reread every post I wrote, in the order they were written, they would remind me of conversations I had, thoughts I couldn’t get past, and mundane moments that, on the surface, wouldn’t seem groundbreaking enough to remember.
With the volume of writing I do for other people—and the limited number of creative hours I can dedicate toward screen time—I just can’t find time to write like I used to. Thoughts I once unpacked here just stay in my brain, slowly suffocating me into the stressed-out, super intense Kara you all know and love.
So in December, I started journaling.
Never once did I think it would stick. I thought it would go to the same resting place my other ambitions go to die, placed between my never-happened yoga practice and my failed-attempt to like salads.
But shit, I wrote in the same journal every night since December. Almost. I give myself a free pass if I’m hammered or have company. Or out of town. I write for three to five minutes, sometimes as short as sixty seconds (I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s shocking how many sentences you can scribble in a minute).
—Hold up, I have a quick rant to type:
You know what’s funny and quasi-pathetic? How inundated we are by unsolicited advice. I cannot tell you how many times I scribble down a sentence in my journal, and—since paper doesn’t come with a delete button—catch myself thinking, “Is this positive enough? Should I have written that? Aren’t there studies proving that by thinking about a negative experience, I’m forcing myself to relive that negativity?”
Thoughts are so exhausting. Like damn, the purpose of my journal was simply to remember my days. Can’t I just transcribe events that ACTUALLY happened without, I dunno, giving a flying fuck about whether I’m expressing enough gratitude?
Whoa, I did not see that coming. You should have been bored two paragraphs ago.
This weekend, I reread every journal I wrote since December.
You know what I realized? Things I thought I’d remember, I didn’t; things I never thought I’d remember, I did. Here’s what I mean by that:
I can’t remember articles I wrote and turned in. Like, ACTUAL articles. That I wrote. And edited. Then re-read. For money.
Three-month-ago-me THOUGHT I would remember those articles. She wrote, “I had such a good day today! I wrote xyz, finished xyz, and started on xyz.”
I don’t have the slightest clue what xyz was. I could scroll through Asana to find the answer for you, but let’s be honest: You’re just sitting patiently waiting for me to get to my point.
This is my point: I don’t remember what I got done—I remember how I felt.
I remembered conversations I had with people, even if I didn’t write the actual conversation down. If I wrote grabbed a beer with so-and-so, I remembered the meaning of life so-and-so and I arrived on. I remembered how I felt. If I wrote I was in a shitty mood today and can’t remember why, I remember, “That’s RIGHT. I totally WAS a raging bitch that day for no apparent reason. I DO remember that.”
I remember the day Dolcezza forgot to turn their heat on and I drank my coffee in 47 degree temperatures. I remember when I missed friends I hadn’t seen in weeks. I remember deep, inspiring conversations that left me with a million blog post ideas I never sat down to write. I remember being so annoyed I had to rant to a blank page to prevent myself from unleashing that rant on a human being.
A few years ago, my friend Keena told me, “Kara, you judge your days by how much you get done. I judge my days by how happy I am.”
I think I wrote half a dozen blog posts about those two sentences, and here I am writing my seventh.
When I wrote about the articles I wrote and the work I scratched off my to-do lists—the XYZs I can no longer identify—I almost always began that day’s journal entry with “I had such a great day today,” then listed my XYZs to justify that sentence.
I equated that day’s worth, with that day’s work. Even though, three months later, it clearly wasn’t anything worth remembering.
How the work made me feel, is something I do remember.
I remember pep talks with best friends, teammates, and business besties. I remember a client texted me at 9PM on a Sunday night because she was so in love with the bio I wrote for her. I remember interviewing clients who thought they gave me nothing to work with—but really gave everything—and piecing together an incredible message any sound-minded person could relate to.
I don’t remember my to-do lists, the XYZs I checked off, or the deadlines I hit. I remember spending time with the people who mean everything to me. I remember being happy. Or unhappy. Or embarrassed over still-cringe-worthy moments.
I remember how I felt, but I can’t tell you a single fucking thing I got done.