I have been reading and analyzing literature since my mother taught me at four years old. As a result, I can pick apart characters and themes and make intensely accurate predictions, but I cannot interact with living people as well as I can with their fictional counterparts. While literary characters and plot points can be predictable and comfortable, reality is not.
From a young age, books have been my safe haven. If I was angry or sad, I would retreat to my room to find something to read where the characters would not judge or question, simply enjoying the fact that someone was there to journey with them. The Lorax was my conscience, Elizabeth and Darcy my wittiest companions, and literature and I formed a sort of mutualistic relationship, wherein I listened to what a book had to say and in return it took me on an adventure. However, living in fantasy worlds kept me from adapting to reality and had lasting effects. I was shy and uncommunicative, uncomfortable with living people and the possibility of rejection I hadn’t faced with my literary friends. I had a rude awakening in high school, though, when I realized how truly lonely that lifestyle can be.
I found myself in unknown territory, forced into a world that seemed much more frightening than it actually is. Slowly, though, I began to find people with similar interests and developed a small group of close friends. They began pulling me out of my introversion and I was able to start seeing the aspects of literature I loved so much in the world around me. I saw understanding in my sister, adventure in my best friend, and suddenly reality didn’t seem so dull. The adventure and risk I found in books bled into my everyday life, although climbing a mountain and fighting villains doesn’t quite equate to passing a test or trying to find a date to prom. My life has become my personal novel and I have been able to find a balance between reality and the thing I love the most.
While I love literature dearly and it will always hold a special place in my heart, I know it cannot totally encompass my life. I lacked a balance that left me struggling to adapt to living in both worlds, and that instability held me back from opportunities I may have faced otherwise. That balance between fiction and reality is key and I am still continuously striving to maintain it. I believe that, while a smart person reads books, a “wise person reads both books and life itself.” Having the ability to read and balance these two fantastic worlds gives a deeper understanding of each and can drastically enhance their enjoyment.