Bullet journaling has been my obsession for about 18 months now and I've swiftly worked my way through three journals, each defining my system and how I make it work for me. I've long been thinking about the ethos of bullet journaling and what it's really about and whether or not I'm really embracing it.
Alongside being simple, effective, time efficient and personal is the ethos of the bullet journal not that it doesn't matter if you make a mistake? The whole point of the bujo is that if you make a mistake, a plan changes, the journal changes with you. There's no ripping out pages, there's no crying if you cross something out, you just move on and move with it.
But that's not the ethos of MY bullet journal. My bullet journal is definitely something I strive to make beautiful, I don't rip out pages but I do cover them up when I've made a mistake and I do want to cry when it doesn't look the way I want.
The ethos of MY bullet journal I suppose is that it's something creative I'm proud of that also works for me practically. I'm an illustrator, my bullet journal was always going to strive to be a thing of beauty because I am naturally creative. My school books were always presented nicely my handwriting has always been complimented, my sketchbooks have always been full and it was no surprise to me that one of the biggest draws of bullet journaling was the, uhm, drawing side. No pun intended.
To me, my bullet journal does need to be perfect. It's not just a list making tool for me or a calendar - it's a diary, it's something to look back on, they're notebooks I'll keep and refer to time and time again. And so because they're more than a notebook to me I find the need to keep them perfect, I want to keep them perfect.
I also suspect I'm not alone.
Bullet journaling very quickly became a trend and as with all trends, we wanted to be the best at it. We wanted Instagrammable bullet journals, we wanted them to be beautiful, we wanted to write blog posts on them and have people comment on how lovely they were.
Sure there are millions of bullet journals that are sticking to the original ethos. Millions and millions. But there are also millions that are breaking that ethos - people like me that are perfecting their bullet journals, that are constantly trying new layouts to make the perfect one. People like me who rip a page out or cover it up if they make a mistake or draw a headline they don't like. There are millions of people like me.
I suspect the answer is actually yes - we are ruining the ethos of the bullet journal by trying to perfect it because it goes against the grain what the original system is all about. The bullet journal is all about the versatility and simplicity and I suspect we're ruining the ethos by taking the simplicity and making it....complex. We're trying to perfect it, we're trying to make it beautiful, we're taking away the simplicity and we're focusing on the look of it rather than just getting on and using it.
The beauty of this though is the flip side of the bullet journal ethos - that it's personal. Sure I, and many of you reading this, might be breaking the ethos of the bullet journal but it's personal to us. It's ok that I want to make it perfect, it's ok that I focus heavily on the look and it's ok that maybe my ethos is slightly different to that envisaged by the creator. The ethos is what you make it.
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