People journal for a lot of different reasons. If you read published diaries by those from earlier centuries, there's a sort of formality to them. It's almost as though they expected they'd have an audience at some point in the future. I'm sure it was just the way they talked at the time, but even some of the mundane things come across as somewhat extraordinary just in the way they're presented.
The reason why I started keeping a journal was because I had to. It was a place where I could manage the overwhelming parts of my life and at least pretend to keep them under control. Though I grew up with a lot of people around me, I really had no one I could talk to on a consistent basis. And those around me—my parents, my siblings, and my peers—were usually trying to figure it all out just like I was.
I'd write about things that bugged me or made me mad. There were fits of jealousy and bouts of winter blues. The unfairness of life and the roller coaster of emotions influenced by hormones. I also wrote about small victories or little things that I observed that I figured wouldn't matter to other people:
- I was riding the bus one morning to work and noticed that the waste steam rising from the Horner Waldorf paper factory created a small rainbow on each side of the rising sun.
- Sometimes when I drove south on 35W into downtown I'd keep my eye on Minneapolis skyline. It would start on my left as a small patch and slowly grow larger. It would dip from my view as I went under a bridge, and then all at once as you wound down into the city, it would sweep around the horizon from left to right, disappear one last time, and then reappear as you crossed over the river.