I have a confession. I need to share a story that I’ve not told, or better to say, not told entirely. I want to talk about the importance of reading and one remarkable thing reading novels did to me.
Everyone knows that it’s important to read, but how many of us understand the why? I think reading is a great thing to do because it:
- Keeps the mind active
- Gives you different views on the same subject, so you have eventually different stories to tell
- Allows you to revise opinions
- Shows you how to put down your opinion, in an efficient way in order to be heard
- Gives you the chance to realise and think about how little you know
Last academic year, when I started my first year of uni, was my very first time living away from my family, in a different country and of course in a different city, not similar at all to my hometown. It was difficult; I had a very bad and hard time, and today is one of those few days I have the calmness to remember without being suddenly saddened by that tough time. Right now, to write down what I went through gives nothing in terms of emotions. I was re-reading a novel I absolutely love and I just realised how the description of the emotions and feelings of the main female character at a point in time when she was struggling fit my very own struggle to succeed and conquer the loneliness I went through.
She woke up torpid each morning, slowed by sadness, frightened by the endless stretch of day that lay ahead. Everything had thickened. She was swallowed, lost in a viscous haze, shrouded in a soup of nothingness. Between her and what she should feel, there was a gap. She cared about nothing. She wanted to care, but she no longer knew how; it had slipped from her memory, the ability to care. Sometimes she woke up flailing and helpless, and she saw, in front of her and behind her and all around her, an utter hopelessness. She knew there was no point in being here, in being alive but she had no energy to think concretely of how she could kill herself. She lay in bed and read books and waited until midnight, her room-mates in their rooms, before heating up her food, and she left the dirty plates under her bed, until greenish mould fluffed up around the oily remnants of rice and beans. Often, in the middle of eating or reading, she would feel a crushing urge to cry and the tears would come, the sobs hurting her throat. She had turned off the ringer of her phone. She no longer went to class. Her days stilled by silence and snow.
Reading these lines sound like an echo in my soul, a reminder of how rough I felt and how teared apart I was. And it is so bizarre that I feel the need to write about this now, now that I’ve learnt how to deal with the struggle of being student and broken and alone when it comes to caring about myself emotionally.
How does the importance of reading concerns what I experienced? This is the sixth point: reading heals.
When I read a novel, the experience of the characters becomes mine and their struggle my very own, so their triumph becomes my joy. So during a tough period, I realise that I’m not alone in my loneliness, that no matter how bad and ugly the picture of my life looks like at the moment, like my character, there might be a chance to shine and that one chance makes the whole struggle worth it. I know that characters are fictional, but the emotional connection and the vivid presence of their being becomes so real to me, that I end up believing that they could be beings.
So in these terms, reading becomes healer in the time of struggle and tribulation, a comforter when no one is actually there because it makes me understand that I’m not the only one, I’m not the only hustler; so I feel understood and somehow safe.