This is a guest post from Veronica Vivona. Veronica received her B.A. in creative writing and sociology from the University of North Texas in 2015. She’s a lover of overly spicy food, sparkly glitter nail polish, and intriguing middle grade novels. In her spare time, she loves to drink way too much coffee and hang out with her dog, Potato. You can find her on Twitter at @Veronica_Vivona.
I somehow became an avid reader at a very early age. Although most kids around me couldn’t have cared less, I was enthralled with the lives of my characters and the stories they had to tell. Since then, nothing has changed. In fact, my admiration for novels and short stories has grown. Reading has become such an influential part of my life. Regardless to the occasional distance I put between my bookshelf and myself, I always find my way back, falling in love with all my novels yet again.
That being said, I have a confession to make. A major, not so obvious confession that will probably not change your world one bit, but it might come as a shock to those who know me personally. So, here it is: I’m not the reader that everyone thinks I am, not even close.
There! I said it.
Here’s the deal. I don’t always have my nose in a book. I’m not always enthralled with a story. Sometimes, I’m nothing more than a distracted mess. There are times where I can’t stop thinking about that doctor’s appointment I had last week, or what color nail polish I should wear, or why my dog keeps scratching his ears. Whatever it might be, my life doesn’t exist only around what book I’m currently reading. There are always other things going on too. Yet for some reason, everyone in my life considers me to be the ideal lover of all things books! Why? Because I read. That’s all; that’s it. It’s all because I enjoy reading, and book shopping, and author gossip. Because I’m most likely one of the only people in their lives who actually reads habitually.
I have somehow found myself existing in this world where hardly anyone I am close with reads to the same extent that I do and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
There are two sides to this portentous coin. On one hand, it’s slightly annoying. When did everyone stop reading and how did I not notice it? I find myself sitting here as the daughter of an accountant and an engineer, the sister to a semi-professional video gamer, and the significant other to an actuary. When did they all decide they were going to move on and leave me behind in Neverland with my overstocked bookshelves?
The other side of this coin isn’t a good one. At least, it’s not one that paints me in a favorable light. That being said, I must be honest and admit that there are times where I like being “the reader” in my world. The only reader. It makes me feel like there’s something to me that makes me special. I have a connection to novels and stories that not everyone seems to have. Yes, I can be distracted. Yes, I can leave. I can take breaks halfway through a book and then come back to it just as enthused about it as I was in the beginning. So, this leaves me feeling like an imposter as well as a conqueror.
I keep thinking that reading captured everyone and it only held onto me when I know that’s just not true. Reading never captured some. It never pulled them in. It never showed them the beauty it holds. Just as well, I’m probably extra hard on myself. Reading never left my soul for a reason. Reading became a part of who I am even if my norm is different from those around me. Being distracted, losing steam, not having enough time…you know, life happens sometimes and that’s okay.
I’m not an imposter because I love to read. And I’m not a conqueror just because I do read and others don’t. If I looked in the mirror and was honest with myself, I would know I’m not the only reader in my world, even if it sometimes feels like it. I would also see someone who is hard on herself for not always being on point about something she’s passionate about. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m the only reader. It can’t be. I need to look and ask and discuss with others. I need to learn more about my friends and expand my horizons. I need to stop judging those who don’t read enough and stop comparing myself to those who read more. And most importantly, I need to stop demanding labels of myself and find my balance instead. Balance is truly the key here. If the pressure came off, my closed-in world could finally open up. I would find more people like myself who enjoy reading.
In the end, what matters are the words on the page, the books on the shelves, and the people with interest. I’m okay with being “the reader” because I am a reader. And just because reading fades away from me sometimes doesn’t mean I’m not. However, I also need to remember that I’m not so special when it comes to reading. I’m really not. What is special is the connection I hold with my favorite stories, authors, and characters. That’s what matters most.