How Reading Helped Save Me
I am a bookworm. My mom is an avid reader, however, we have entirely different interests when it comes to reading. I started reading for leisure purposes in high school. I’m pretty sure the first series I read that got me interested in books was Twilight – I know, judge me. While this writing wasn’t anything exceptional in my opinion, this novel-turned-movie sparked the world’s (and my temporary) obsession with vampires, oddly…
I read a few other light reading books such as Five People You Meet in Heaven, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, etc. Reading wasn’t something that was a priority for me, though, since I was already reading so much material in high school and college, constantly falling asleep in my 600 page textbooks and barely finishing those summer reading novels. It wasn’t until my 3rd year of university that I started spending hours wandering around Barnes & Noble.
My roommate Megan is who I thank for this developed passion. Megan and I were roommates for 3 years and she is still one of my best friends to this day. Megan is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, like… if you have a problem with Megan, then there is a probably a problem with you #SorryNotSorry. She is bubbly, enthusiastic, loving, thoughtful, and optimistic. I was in therapy all throughout college, and although I absolutely loved my college counselor, I said that sometimes the best therapy was just surrounding yourself around the right people. To this day, my favorite quote is, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. ” Being around Megan’s positive and effervescent energy helped me look at things in a brighter light even on my darkest days. I was starting to believe that I could actually achieve happiness rather than just daydream about it. Megan was recommending certain speakers and authors to me that helped [even] her with certain mental and emotional battles she was fighting against. This marked the beginning of my true investment into self-care and self-improvement. I am forever grateful for Megan’s impact on my life, and helping me seek the power of reading.
Self-care is something that is truly undervalued and underestimated in today’s society. I am a victim of putting other people first and myself last. I used to say to my therapist that making other people is what made me happy (since I truly didn’t know what made me happy anymore in the depths of my anxiety and depression). Although making people smile and laugh does deliver a great amount of joy to my mood, it is not something that delivered long-term happiness. I would be so elated for those 30 seconds after a friend opened my gift, or if a little girl smiled at me when I opened the door for her at the mall. After 30 seconds to a minute, I was back to my normal “bleh” attitude. I put other people’s happiness before my own, I bought things to please other people instead of buying what I actually needed, and I cared more about what other people thought of me than what I actually thought of me.
This is a huge commonality between males and females, especially in the digital age. We have a constant stimulation of new information and people thrown at us everyday. We are endlessly trying to keep up with all the superficial positive reinforcement online from friends, family, and even strangers. We have become obsessed with what other people think about of us, which has caused us to fall aloof of what we think about our true selves, and how we want to think our true selves When we prioritize other people’s opinions of us first, we become slaves of their approval, and therefore forget to take care of what we really need, want, believe, etc.
I started studying psychology initially in high school when I took AP Psychology. In college, I took so many psychology electives that I’m pretty sure if I took one more it would have qualified me as a psych minor. I became immensely intrigued in the thought processes of the human mind. I read pages and pages of data just out of my own genuine interest. From a young age, I was always hearing from my doctors, “It’s all in your head. Your thoughts are not reality.” I was confused at the time being a young teenager, but the pieces were starting to fall together the deeper I dived into psychology. I was realizing that my thoughts controlled my behavior, and my behavior was destroying me inside and out. My thoughts of being too fat and not good enough would cause me to not eat. Not eating caused me to feel cranky throughout the day and lash out on my family and friends. Lashing out on my family and friends caused me to feel alone and angry at everyone. I was self-sabotaging myself, yet the whole time I thought it was because people thought I wasn’t good enough. But the only person who thought that was me.
“What consumes your mind controls your life.” One of my favorite quotes. When I started to read these self-improvement, I started to see a brighter light ahead of me. I was reading books that weren’t just a dump of data and charts, but REAL people who wrote about their REAL life experiences — that were exactly like mine! I was finally able to recognize that I’m not the only one battling these mental thoughts, and MOST people feel pretty negative about themselves from time to time. However, the crucial difference is that most people do not change or take action to transform these thoughts. Most people do not seek guidance, as they find it to be a form of weakness. I can relate – that was totally me. But after a long long long time of suffering, I realized that it is beneficial to everyone in my life to seek help. Many people look at “self-help” books as a form of desperation, which is why so many people are unhappy with their life; they do nothing to change, even if it’s just reading a book. I’m sorry, but the fact that maybe your partner cheated on you or that you lost your job is not #ThanksObama worthy. We live in a blame culture that is toxic and contagious. If you’re unhappy and you do nothing about it, how do you expect to achieve your goals? Do you think people are going to consistently do things for you? Or even continue to help you? Luck only goes so far…
To this day, I have read over 30 or so books on self-development and self-improvement. I don’t like calling these books self-help due to the negative connotation. When people refer to these books as “self-help books,” or even ask, “Why do you read so many of those depression books?” – I respond back with something along these lines…
“It’s a self-improvement book, since last time I checked, I’m not perfect and neither are you. I like reading about how I can change my thoughts to become more productive, more optimistic, more driven, and more successful. I honestly just want to continue to be more awesome tomorrow than I was the day before.”
Typically after that response, they have no more naive questions :).