Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Make Reading a Habit

La Liseuse (The Reader), 1776, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

La Liseuse (The Reader), 1776, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

One thing that I wish I had developed more as a child is the interest of reading. I was particularly an imaginative kid, full of daydreams about different worlds, changing personas, and composing conflicts and resolutions just for escape. Looking back, I find it as a wasted opportunity that, having that ability to create fantasy and wonder, I was not given a crutch to support that throbbing desire to dissolve into another world or cast a net to let my wandering mind be more directive. Large texts intimmidated me because at that time I really did not want to read textbooks assignments from school because I largely relied on the teacher’s explanations because of my preferred visual acquiring of knowledge. I always resorted to daydreaming instead of reading. Although I think that daydreaming is good, little did I know  back then that not habing the habit to read proved to be detremental to learning.

When I reached high school, I was submerged into an unfamiliar territory. I came from a school being a high achiever, mostly relying on teachers’ lectures and explanations, and eventually ended up as one of the top students of the batch. Now, at that high school, students were carefully selected for my high school and we were known to be a collection of smarts. I entered this revered science high school, mingling with people who were always on top of their games: know a lot, absorb information a lot, asked questions and raised hands for answers a lot, did homeworks and readings a lot. My lack of reading habit started to backfire. Everyone was raising their hands and excelling well in their studies. And I was lead into a dark path for relying most of the time upon teachers’ and classmates’ words of mouth. I lacked initiative, my mind did not understand complex information well despite the amazing visual memory I had. I could not connect cosequential and relating facts and not grasp reasoning well. I graduated high school, still not acquiring the habit to read and felt very miserably stupid.

College came, and the same attitude of still not wanting to read still persisted and consequences had became rough exponentially. It was the time in life when I was extremely conscious of my future, as it was a crucial transition from the educational phase to the decisive phase in future career directions, adding the fact that that future career would most likely be the source to feed myself. I had a hard time internally and officially branded myself as intelligent but really really stupid because of the same prevailing problems: lack of focus, inability to connect and build understandings among scattered yet related facts, and inexistent initiative to think.

Fast forward to two years before, I realized how I, joining a writers’ guild and befriending few artsy people, have surrounded myself with those who are interested with stories of escape and fantasy, same as I, but all of them seem to be faring well in their lives. I wondered why I possesed the same imaginative and inquisitive mind yet I don’t seem to grab information quickly.

It took a long time to observe everyone’s ways and like a glass crashing to the ground an internal breakthrough suddenly pinpointed the difference: everyone who I know reads. They read anything. It doesn’t matter if it is fiction or non-fiction. They read. It doesn’t matter if it is a textbook, a novel, or a self-help book. They read. But more than that… they read books with substance.

Aha! Then and there I vowed myself to read books as successively as possible. I challenged myself to read books of varying nature. I consulted self-help books, fiction, history, and also some academic textbooks and add to that a few internet and newspaper articles every now and then. Slowly did I noticed the changes that occured.

Reading taught me to communicate. The more I read, the more I can communicate. It is not just about the vocabulary that I hone everytime I read a new sentence and encounter a new word which can be looked up in a dictionary. It is not just about applying the same word in writing essays or in conversing with people. It is not just about to understand jargon and cultural context in varying situations. It is the full knowledge and confidence I gained that made me think highly of myself. Every time I read, I feel my brain getting heavier and I imagine the mechanics of my brain getting more complex.

Reading taught me to be imaginative. It taught me to construct from something as limiting and abstract as typed symbols into fantastical worlds and visions, it helped me imagine concepts and how one theory ties in with another theory, and most importantly, it helped me to feel and understand new situations and enter into a renewed kind of perspective. It taught me about each varying person’s socio-economic context. It to empathize and think. It taught me to think and be ideal. It taught me to translate those ideas into action and spark change.

Lastly, reading taught me to aspire for more. I have met individuals along my soul-searching and found out (and was intimidated by) how less I have learned through the years. I found out that reading creates a multi-faceted person because of the open-mindedness it cultivates. I found out that we can break tradition and norms in so many ways possible. I found out that it empowers you by knowing a wide range of possibilities ahead. It has, at least slowly as it is, changed me into a determined, active, and directive person.

I remember my professor back in college who encourages us to read if we feel we do not grasp any theoretical concept. At the time, I had shallow understanding of what she meant. As her advice resonates within my head I defenitely know now why she encouraged us so. Although I realized how lacking I am still when it comes to a multitude of information, knowledge, and skill, it is not too late for it gives me a drive to be a better person for now I have found out a secret weapon. It is through reading that our mind’s gears are turned, not matter how unoiled and rusty it may seem. Constant reading polishes the system of thinking, a manner which, if practiced perpetually, will make the gears act upon themselves, and, eventually, curiosity, initiative, creativity, and resolve will come after.

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