One of my keenest hobbies is burying my head in the sand in terms of any sort of adult responsibility, and technology has really helped me to do this. Instead of living a fulfilling life full of regular people goals and resolutions (see last year’s tirade about ‘New Year, New Me’…) I sit in my bed with my phone, watching YouTube videos about others peoples’ goals and successes and live vicariously through them. There is nothing more I love than a ‘What I Eat in a Day’ video and I have some firm favourite YouTubers that I check in with, but lately, my viewing habits have taken a strange spiral and I’ve been watching more niche content than ever before…
Recently I have watched hours of mock interviews for Maths and MFL courses at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, vlogs from students at those Universities (despite having never been to them and having three degrees!), people opening their GCSE and A-Level results, What I Eat in a Day videos by families and small children (so cute and inspiring) and among all of these strange and beautiful rabbit holes I have been led down by the internet, I have stumbled across maybe the most frightening place of all…the land of the Bullet Journal.
For those of you not aware of what a Bullet Journal is, read on at your peril! A Bullet Journal is basically organisation to the extreme and probably as easy to keep up as our new years’ resolutions are: fun for about a month and then left at the wayside for you to find later in the year and feel shit about how shit you are and how shit your life is.
Bullet Journal writers precisely record every aspect of their life from neatly calligraphied and illustrated lists of books they want to read, to favourite monthly memories, wishlists, pages of inspirational quotes, gratitude lists and neatly laid out blocks which correspond to episodes of TV shows that get coloured in, with proper good shading and everything, when they are watched. Each journal has an index page so you can flip to the specific lists or pages that you have created more effectively. Some keenies have even water-coloured their headings on a daily basis…the dedication is undeniably incredible and the outcome makes me both terrified and kind of envious in some indescribable way. This is the Bullet Journal world which I find myself teetering on the edge of and I remain undecided about whether or not I want to enter in to this life.
One thing that I must say about these journals are that they are literally works of art and are very Pintrest/Instagram-worthy. I imagine to Bulleters (as I will now affectionately call them) the most painstaking and important decision of the year must be the purchasing of a new journal. This book becomes their entire world for the year because apparently every minute detail about their existence must be carefully plotted in their Moleskines and reflected upon. There is no option to say no to a task…instead you have to migrate it…whatever happened to unashamedly giving up?! I wonder what the impact of the loss of a journal would have on these people – surely devastating due to the loss of something which contains so much beauty and love, but how deep does the Bullet Journal go?
I decided to research the Bullet Journal and it appears to have been developed by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer in NY who snappily calls it BuJo for short on the website bulletjournal.com. Interestingly, the website would have you believe that the bullet journal is a streamline organisational tool claiming ‘all you need is a notebook and a pen’, but looking at the tutorials from the ‘Bullet Journal Community’, I can see that the origins of this mindfulness practice has evolved into something that I personally would consider highly stressful. What if I forget to fill in my gratitude plotter? What if all my illustrations for my vision board page stack up? The images on the bulletjournal.com site are much more simplistic, much more useful, more plain and peaceful and actually, dare I say it, quite appealing. Carroll’s approach only contains four components: topics, page numbers, short sentences and bullets. I just don’t know if I could be bothered to document all my plans and goals with symbols and codes. For me, I could see it ending up like my to-do lists where, let’s face it, I write them retrospectively to feel good about ticking something off a stupid list!
One thing that I can get behind however is the sentiment. The website describes the journal as ‘the analog system for the digital age.’ This idea of coming offline every now and again, to go back to basics, is a very appealing one. Clearly I have no issue with technology, but I do enjoy writing moments where I just have pen and paper, where I just have a book and a sofa, where I physically browse in a shop and feel fabrics, talk to people face to face…these are all part of mindfulness, part of connecting with a tangible world. Real life should be inspiring, not the videos I watch or the journal lists which I create; mindfulness should be simple and plain, not dressed up and paraded. Despite last year’s rant, I don’t mind goals if they aren’t all-consuming and are realistic. 2016 was a very devastating year for the world and for me personally, and whilst I love the idea of a Bullet Journal, my truth for now is that perhaps life is too short to colour squares.