So, I started reading. I never read as a child…well correction, I read for school activities and classes. I probably read a handful of books (Goosebumps) just for fun. Perhaps there are a few books slipping through the cracks of my mind. In high-school, reading was the last thing that I was interested in doing. I saw so many other girls around my age enjoying books before class or even during class. I heard people discussing books and fangirling about them all. I even would criticize others who were into reading, like it was “conformist” and shameful. Meanwhile I kept my attention focused on the drama of high-school, on immature boys, and my appearance…none of which mattered.
So why is this titled “Loving Yourself”…I’m writing about books. What do books have to do with loving yourself?! Well quite a lot, see. You read fiction to escape and to enjoy (unless you are an English major maybe?). I didn’t let myself escape. I forced myself to constantly over-think and analyze people and myself. I wouldn’t do hobbies much either. But now, with a good book in hand, I let myself escape. There is no point in denying myself anymore. Maybe you’ve noticed too; there are things you love and are dying to do again, but you just…don’t. And you don’t have a reason for it, not a good one.
This is my confession. I wasn’t a reader, because I thought staying on the phone with my then-boyfriend for 5 hours was somehow more productive than doing something I liked. Somehow I would be happier and get everything I ever wanted if I looked a certain way and if I could control how others saw me. Instead of escaping into a world of wizards and magic, I cried like a desperate victim on the couch. I let my emotions over-run everything else in my life, including grades and relationships. I let it happen. Rather than being a victim, I was the assailant.
There is something I envy about those shy girls in high-school who read and fangirled. It didn’t seem to matter to them what the most popular brand of clothes was, or who was dating who, or even if there was a guy that liked them. They looked so balanced, so free from the heavy load of emotion that I carried. They seemed so mature, in ways that I am just now beginning to understand. It has taken nearly 10 years for me to reach this point and pick up a fiction novel. And I find myself feeling 14 again, trying to set things right.
Sadly, I didn’t speak to these girls much, but I’m sure they were awesome. I never saw them fighting with each other. They were just best friends, and kept to each other, but never in a stuck up way. If given an opportunity to redo my high-school years, and perhaps even my middle-school years, I would have done so as a book worm, just like these girls. I would have shied away from expensive brand-name clothes, computer games, dating, and drama. I would have read more, about everything, but most importantly fiction. I would have took up my favorite hobbies like crocheting, and did them on the bus to and from school. I would have laughed at guys hitting on me and buried my face back into my book. I would have cared more about my health, and I never would have starved myself to be thinner. As a teenager, I would have treated my parents with the respect that they deserved and actually told them how I felt, rather than crying.
There are so many “I would have”s but, honestly it doesn’t matter much now. I can never go back, and that is perfectly fine with me. I am still alive, and I still have plenty to live for. I can still be that balanced bookworm, who really–honestly cares about herself. There is absolutely no one who can tell me that I can’t go kayaking on Sundays or spend all weekend reading in my pajamas. I don’t have to deny myself 8 hours of sleep or stress about homework. I have the freedom to go to the gym every day of the week if I wanted. And yet, I still notice that I have been denying myself the simple pleasures, like a book.
I’m happy to say that I’ve read two books this past week, and I have bought several more. It’s never too late to be the person you want to be. Cheers.