Growing up in a literary household I felt obligated to follow in my parent’s footsteps. I began reading to myself as soon as I learned how to properly turn a page. Despite the paper cuts and the sometimes confusing words I fell in love with it. Would lose myself in stories about heroic mice fighting to save their abbey from the evil ferrets plotting to take it over. While knew that these books lacked the depth of meaning that my parents were used to, it felt good to share my thoughts on what was currently reading at the dinner table.
My love for reading only grew as I progressed into middle school. Signed up for a club called Battle of the Books and dove into the competitive side of reading. We would be tested on both our comprehension and memorization of the books that were assigned to us. I would use reading as an escape. I found myself living vicariously through the protagonists of the many novels that read; loving what they loved, fighting against the same evils they fought against, and feeling the same loss that they felt. Somewhere around eighth grade I decided to focus more on my social life and redefine my image.
This meant dropping all activities that didn’t fit into y new vision I had for myself. Unfortunately, this included reading. Replaced my love for books with a love of sports and social recognition, choosing to demean and humiliate those who reminded me of my past self. I would neglect the required readings in class and rely on spark notes to get me through school. This pattern persisted throughout high school and into my freshman year of college. My drop in reading inversely paralleled a rise in my anxiety and depression. Would find myself hyper focusing on how everyone else perceived me.
This caused me to isolate and avoid all social interaction. Because I was terrified of the very thing that had learned to thrive on I started to give up on myself. I did not know what to do with myself most days and started losing who was. It was not until my friend gave me her copy of George OR Martin’s Game of Thrones that was able to break away from this vicious cycle. Once again I was engrossed in a mythical world that had nothing to do with my own. Was able to relate to people again and slowly broke out of my shell. Since then I have been able to use reading as a tool to manage my anxiety.
Being able to roger about the stress that everyday life presents me with has been the most effective coping mechanism for me so far. Because of this I find that I am partial to fantasy novels because they least resemble the world around me. I tell you this not to gain your sympathy or even understanding but to illustrate the profound impact that reading can have on a person. Books have shaped my life and I doubt that I would be the same person that am today if didn’t have the love for novels that I do. Reading has helped me in so many ways and the only way that can think of to repay the favor is to continue to nurture my love for it.