I am a reader.
That is a concept of who I am, I love reading and those who know me can attest to the fact that I am never without a book in my hand. But would it surprise you to know that my love for reading used to be a burning detest for reading?
My elementary school used to have a program called Accelerated Reader; a program that tallying up points from the amount of books you read. Depending on the number of points you had, you could earn special prizes. Each lunch with the principle, get some books and earn free vouchers are just some of the prizes that I can remember. Everyone tried to earn enough to eat lunch with the principle, I mean who wouldn’t? Eating with the principle was a huge deal to little kids. However, while I strove to eat lunch with the principle, I only read enough to get those points, and enough meant picture books and those very small “learn to read” books. For some odd reason I couldn’t stand the thought of opening a bigger book, it wasn’t that I didn’t try because I did. I just wasn’t interested. My grandmother even tried to get me to try, but it was still a no go. However, when I moved, everything changed.
I was just entering 5th grade when I transferred to a different school in my district, it wasn’t a sad move because I was leaving my friends, it was sad because my new school didn’t have the Accelerated Reader program. But that isn’t the point of this story, it’s about learning to love to read and that didn’t happened till I was so bored one day in school that I went to the library. Let me tell you, my mother was shocked, and I mean SHOCKED, when I came home with a chapter book in tow. That book? It was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and from the moment I read the first page I didn’t stop till I had finished the lasts book. From that moment on reading became my world, it became my escape when things got too home. In fact I would read so much that teachers would constantly yell at me to put the book down in class.
As I grew up, reading became a huge part of my life and it hard to not put a book down, I think I read the last Harry Potter book in three days; I only stopped to eat and go to the bathroom. However, when I met my best friend, I realized that reading wasn’t my only love.
I am a writer.
When I first entered SUNY Oswego my dream was to get into the Zoology major and eventually become a vet. However, that dream didn’t work the way I wanted too and I became an English and Creative double major instead. It was an easy way out, I was/still am dealing with depression and anxiety and every which way I turned walls would be in front of me. So English and Creative Writing became an easy escape, but I don’t regret taking that path because it deepened my love of reading and writing.
While Creative Writing might not have been my first choice in a major, it helped me to hone in on the type of writing I did want to write. It helped show me that I was good at writing and people actually wanted to read what I wrote. It also helped me see that I didn’t have to write for anyone but myself and that would be perfectly okay.
I am a reader and a writer.
Facts that anyone who knows me can attest to with 100% certainty. I am never without a book in my hand, whether hard copy or electric. Reading allows me to enter a world that isn’t mine, it allows me time and space to not deal with what is going on around me. Worlds like the Shadowhunters, The Mortal Instruments, allow me to image what really went on in the beginning of the world. Is Lilith really the mother of all demons? Are angels as cold and menacing as they are in the book? What really happened to Lucifer? And worlds like Percy Jackson, Did the Greek Gods really exist? If I was the daughter of one, which one would it be? These worlds, and more, define who I am as a person, Harry Potter made me kinder and more empathetic of the people of around me. I believe whole heartily that books changes the person who reads them. In a quote from George R.R. Martin, “I’ve lived a thousand lives and I’ve loved a thousand loves. I’ve walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time. Because I read.”
Words, whether in book form or spilling from my head, make up another part of who I am, they let me escape a world in which sometimes my mental illness or my personal life become too much. I am able to become someone, something, else in world that is completely different from my own. I am able to write my pain away or write a character that is part of me but no one knows that. In the words of Virginia Wolf, “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
I am graduating in May and I cannot be more excited, not because I’m ready to move into a career but because, while I love the programs, SUNY Oswego was not for me. The environment of the campus was not something that connects with who I am, and neither of us are at fault for that it was simply the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time. If you think that is complicated than you have no idea.
So while I am moving to a new school to follow a new path reading and writing will be something that I will never leave behind.
My advice is to find that in you, whether you are a reader or a writer or something else, find out who you are because if you are able to understand who you are, then you can find the rest of you.
So, who are you?