Updated: Jan 10
How quickly we forget...
Remember. A simple word used frequently in daily conversations. The dictionary has many definitions for the word remember. Some of my favorites are: to recall knowledge from memory, to keep in mind for attention or consideration, to recapture the past; to indulge in memories; to show appreciation; to exercise or have the power of memory; to call to remembrance; to keep alive the memory of someone or something.
But with all that can happen in just 1 hour, remembering is easier said than done.
I’m a daily journalist [a person who keeps a journal of daily events]. I started journaling on January 1, 2020, after feeling a relentless internal nudge to do so. So much so that I dragged my friend to a nearby Target to buy my first journal as an adult- a gratitude journal.
Since I can remember, the week after Christmas has always been a time for me to reflect. But what I would find is that I would forget my past experiences. I wanted to know more. All the mundane things that led to big breakthroughs or the precise thoughts that led me to a life-changing decision. Going through my pictures and videos only helped with the good times. But what about the weeks where I didn’t take a photo? So that’s why I started journaling-- to have all my thoughts, wants, desires, fears, dreams, hopes, failures, and triumphs documented.
Because I knew why I wanted to journal, it was very easy to incorporate it into my nightly routine. When March 2020 hit, I had already established my own debriefing session every night. Oh, how handy journaling became when the days blurred into each other... when time felt like it was crawling and sprinting at the same time... when changes, sickness, triumphs, and challenges came. It became my safe space. To fully be me.
Then in December 2020, when I reflected over the past year in my 5 journals, I felt so full. I felt like I was hitting the replay button and re-watching my year. I laughed again, cried again, cringed at my naïveté, smacked my forehead for missing ALL. the. signs, and mostly for all the challenges that came my way I thought would be the end of me. I wished I could go back in time and whisper to myself, “it will all work out.”
That was my recall. But then it was time for improvements. And as I worked on not missing signs, I realized that even the tool that I was using to document my life needed improvement too. Because I was limited in how fast I could write, journaling would take up to 1 hour each night. There were nights when I was clearly sleep-journaling because my handwriting became illegible. I wanted a faster way to write and read through my journal entries.
So I decided to journal on my laptop. Nothing fancy. No prompt to get my juices flowing. No inspirational quote. No color. No templates. Just a blank Word Document, where my day came alive on paper through my words.
JOURNALING on a computer was such a great substitution. I sometimes use the talk-to-text function for nights where I have three pages worth of things to say! Now, I can easily find days, events, people, patterns, and dreams with a simple keyword search.
What began as a tool to help me in my reflections has transformed into something more powerful.
Journaling doesn’t just help me remember things I did, what I ate, my thoughts, wants, desires, fears, dreams, hopes, failures, and triumphs. Journaling now helps me remember the why behind my why.
Why... I give people my undivided attention when they speak.
Why... I can’t give up.
Why... ILAC was founded.
ILAC’s refined mission is to provide practical academic, financial, and professional assistance to BIPOC STEM students and alumni of the IINSPIRE LSAMP Alliance institutions in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska. But why?
I remember my first year of college, struggling academically, strained financially, and terrified of my future profession. In denial, I would plaster a smile on my face and pretend that everything was okay. I remember what it is like to go through hardships while surrounded by help and lifelines. I believed the lies that my grades were not salvageable... my fate was sealed... and the career I wanted was not meant for me.
When I finally admitted that I needed help and asked for it- everything changed.
If that’s you, please know you are seen, heard, and your story matters. Take that first step. Ask for help.
That’s the why behind my why. That’s what I choose to remember. It is why I wake up every morning, grateful for another chance to live, grow, speak up, and serve. It’s my intentional act of recalling knowledge, recapturing the past, showing appreciation, and keeping memories alive. It is how I am able to live a fruitful and flourishing life while fulfilling my purpose.
Not remembering your why will make you question and doubt yourself and sometimes... forfeit your dream. It would be like preparing for a big cross-country road trip. After years of extensive research, gathering all the materials you need, obtaining wisdom from others who have done it before you, you finally get your license, buy a car, and start driving. It’s a beautiful day-- nothing but blue skies, birds are singing, weather is perfect, and you have a full tank of gas, a full stomach, and an empty bladder.
But after some time... you run out of gas. The sun sets. The winds blow, the storms come. Dense fog settles. You have no food and no money. Your phone stops working and you feel like you are all alone.
All of a sudden, this road trip you’ve been anticipating for years feels like your worst nightmare. Now what? Are you going to stop where you are? Halfway to your destination? And just accept whatever comes your way? Or... will you forfeit the trip entirely, turn around, and walk back towards familiar and comfortable? Or will you pivot, persevere, and press on towards your destination hoping for the best?
I hope you choose the latter. You cannot afford to forget, so choose to remember.
Remember where you came from. But never lose sight of where you are going.
It will all work out.
Queenster Nartey is the Co-Founder and Board President of ILAC.
Learn more about Queenster Nartey here!
This blog has been edited by Chief Editor, Norbaya Durr and Queenster Nartey.