Bullet journaling is supposed to be good for people who are anxious. This article claims that is has a soothing effect on those of us whose brains are constantly running like a hundred hamsters in a hundred wheels. And there’s definitely some truth to the idea that the creative energy put into creating a journal/planner/book of notes be be calming for the soul—in the same way that the adult coloring books can be calming, I suppose.
But here’s the thing.
It’s not calming. I bought a few coloring books and some pens and tried it out. As it turns out, I get anxious about accidentally coloring outside of the lines.
The first night after my Leuchtturm 1917 (the journal of choice for many a BuJo junkie) had arrived, after the initial excitement had worn off, I went to sleep more anxious than usual about starting this new adventure. I tossed and I turned for what seemed like hours (and what was, in reality, probably a lot less before I wore myself out) thinking about all the things I could possibly do… and not knowing how. What was the best layout? What was the best pen? What if I messed up? I’m not all that visually artistic, so would that mean that my bullet journal wasn’t “good enough”? Wasn’t “pretty enough”?
That’s how my brain works. And I know that. I know that my brain likes to make me anxious and afraid, when there’s no real cause for it. So I moved on. I talked to a friend who had started a bullet journal recently and was enjoying it and asked for some photos of her spreads. That helped. We have similar needs from the BuJo, even if our brains work a little differently. But it gave me ideas for what I might need, what I might want.
The first thing I thought I needed was the planner aspect. This next month is a month of transitions, with our move coming at the end. I loathe moving. Even the thought of putting all my things into boxes, hauling those boxes to a vehicle, driving, hauling the boxes out of the vehicle, and then unpacking it all churns my stomach, makes it clench with anxiety.
So of course I thought maybe I could use the bullet journaling system to make this upcoming move easier, and slightly more organized than… the chaos that normally happens. So I sat down, and started. I picked a planner layout. This is the layout I want for my planner, I thought, the one that will work the best for me. So I made my weekly spreads for the month of September.
My carefully crafted pages don’t work. Not for the sort of tracking and listing I want to do. Which means that’s 15 pages I’ve wasted. Which means I’m vaguely sick to my stomach with anxiety over “ruining” my new bullet journal, over not doing it “right” or “well” or “pretty” enough.
It’s the error part of trial and error that has always been the hardest for me, even knowing that I will learn from it and get better. That’s how my anxiety works. I’m trying to get over it. And I will. And I’ll find something that works.