My “Useless” Hobby and I

By Madison Woo, Senior Writer

It’s become a bit of an obsession for me to freehand a perfectly symmetric circle, write my letters in looped faux calligraphy and find new ways to utilize my prized Mildliner highlighters (which cost me more than I care to admit) — all for the sake of making my agenda appear more pleasing to the eye. By the end, the three hours I had spent on my journal were a blur.

The amount of time that I spend perfecting this organizational system seems frivolous. Maybe I should have practiced my clarinet for a bit longer or volunteered at the public library. Maybe I should have used the time to join the debate team. Yet when I sit down and carefully plan out my events for the next week in carefully printed fineliner pens, I remember that it’s okay to take a little bit of time to myself and enjoy the simpler things.

I started bullet journaling in eighth grade. I was juggling the impending doom of high school, moving from Korea to a new country and planning extracurriculars while still maintaining a solid GPA in middle school. I was freaking out, and I felt like I was losing control. All the people around me who appeared to have it in order had the common trait of being organized, so it felt natural for me to combine my obsession for straight lines and stationary with a new love of organization that became bullet journaling.

Bullet journaling is an activity that gives you endless options to express yourself while staying organized. It lets you unwind at the end of the night, crossing off your to-do list and planning for a new adventure the next day. As students, we have been so focused on using our time in a productive manner that we often forget that we should do things with joy regardless of what they are.

For me, bullet journaling is the first form of creative expression that I have felt a connection with. I am not especially artistic, so I stick with simple decorations — my journal is filled with neutral tones of gray and black compared to being filled to the brim with colors. It makes me happy to be organized, and it makes me happy to have a hobby whose goal isn’t recognition, but is genuinely for myself. Those Saturday mornings when I paste little cat stickers into the corners of my pages and write the days of the week in huge block letters make me feel at ease and realize the importance of creating art.

Here’s the thing: I’ve tried the debate team. I’ve tried to become a professional ice skater. I’ve tried to become the poster child for volunteer work. But those things lack the same enjoyment that I feel when I sit down and put my pen to paper. Do what you love unapologetically, vivaciously and with your best effort forward. Seize the journal.