What people do in their free time shapes their life. Some people play sports. Other people binge watch Netflix like they get paid for it. I, however, read books.
It’s amazing how many of my peers cringe when I say I read for fun. I’d much rather read all weekend than attend a party, and a lot of people see a problem with this. How will I make friends? Expand my social network? Iron out binge drinking issues while it’s still socially acceptable? I honestly have never needed a large group of friends. I’ve always been content with a close knit few.
My friends, who also love reading, will sit with me in silence for hours, because that’s what we do for fun. We’ll read for hours, with a cup of tea sitting next to us, which usually grows cold by the time we remember we even made tea. We’ll take breaks only to make more tea and eat snacks. Sometimes, we sleep, but not very often. It was at this time when I realized my best friends were the half of my soul I didn’t even know I was missing. There is something so beautiful about being able to sit down with someone you love and participate in separate adventures, but still being together.
The most incredible thing about books is that you can put them down for as long as necessary; if you come back in a year it’ll still be there, faithfully waiting for the turn of a page. Through books, you can explore universes that haven’t been discovered yet. You can travel into the minds of others, and see things through their eyes. And maybe if you’re lucky, like me, you can grow because of them.
I had my first battle with depression in 8th grade where puberty and bullying, hand in hand, slowly destroys the lives of adolescents. After several months of being isolated from everyone in my grade because my best friend (at the time) decided she liked the same boy as I did, I decided that my life wasn’t exactly worth fighting for anymore. If you’ve never experienced depression, you’re lucky. It’s like a constant inexhaustible fight with yourself over whether or not today will be the day you will end it all.
Books were the only way I could escape into someone else’s horror film and leave mine behind. Keeping my mind busy was literally the only way to prolong the inevitable defeat I was facing. As time went on it became harder to distract myself, and eventually I had decided that I was just going to end it before it could get worse.
I had planned to do the deed in the evening while my mom was at a meeting. After school that day, I went to my grandparents' house, as I frequently did. My grandma, knowing my abnormal obsession with the Harry Potter series, had purchased for me the final book in the series; the only one I hadn’t read. I went home that afternoon and started reading, and ended up completely forgetting about my prior engagement. The book took me about a week to read, and within that week, my life had gotten significantly easier to deal with. I didn’t exactly have friends, but I felt more confident being by myself, and eventually I became okay again.
So I mean…I guess Harry Potter kind of saved my life. But, books in general, continue to give me the stability to carry on.