Someone recently commented on how I can completely tune out the world around me when I’m reading, and how amazing he found that. And I guess the ability is kind of amazing, but the reasons I developed it in the first place? Not so much. They’re really more sad than anything.
For example, there was a time when books were my only good friends. Sad, but true.
I was ignored by most of my classmates most of the time during grades 5-8, but I did get picked on pretty heavily by a few of them, and our school’s staff did absolutely nothing to stop the latter. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of friendly classmates, but really, there was only so much they could do to make it better. (Not their fault.)
So, what’s an almost friendless, always picked-on girl to do with her spare time? Read, and read, and read some more. Hell, I read during completely unrelated classes and didn’t even bother hiding it, because it was better than paying attention to my school environment.
Now, a lot of those books weren’t objectively great stuff by any means… I read an awful lot of brain candy in those years. But you know what? There’s really nothing wrong with that. Those books served the purpose of giving me an escape, of letting me for the unpleasantness of my school day for a short time, of entertaining me and giving me something to smile about.
Even when I wasn’t being bullied, I didn’t quite fit in anywhere, or at least I didn’t feel like I fit in. Family, school, wherever – until I moved away for college, I never got the sense that I truly belonged, and my own introversion and awkwardness (not mutually inclusive things, BTW!) didn’t exactly help. I guess books were an escape from that feeling as well. Instead of struggling to get my family to understand me, or trying and failing to understand many of my peers and the high school social world, it was really so much easier for me to pore over a book and immerse myself in a world where I didn’t have to go through all that.
But what about these days? What’s my relationship with books, now that I’ve found people that I actually I fit in with? Well, I still read a bit every day, but I don’t spend every waking hour doing it, and I haven’t in years. Books aren’t my only friends anymore, but they’re still my oldest ones, and I think they’ll always be around, no matter what. Maybe not in the same form, but there nonetheless!