I don’t know when it started.
I don’t remember when my love for reading took on a negative connotation and became embarrassing for me. All I know is one day I was proud of the fact that I loved to read. I always aced the mid-week spelling test which meant I never had to take the spelling test on Fridays. I never had to ask what words meant and I was great at writing ‘reports’ as we called them then. I knew that the volume and level of reading I had done had made me smart.
And suddenly I was totally ashamed and embarrassed that I liked to read. Somewhere in 7th grade a longing for knowledge became something shameful. Normally I would chalk this up to normal adolescent social awkwardness, except that this stigma followed me through to college. Even as an ENGLISH EDUCATION MAJOR…preparing to TEACH students to READ…I was embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed reading. Here was the turning point for me:
First education class: Socio-Psycholinguistics of Teaching Reading (Yeah that was the name and I loved the class!)
Group discussion first night, we were asked to introduce ourselves and how we wound up as Eng Ed majors. I gave the standard ‘this is embarrassing’ before I mentioned my affinity for reading. One of the guys in the group looked genuinely surprised and asked why I was embarrassed. I couldn’t give a good reason. (DUH it was a class about TEACHING READING…everyone in the class loved reading!)
It finally became cool again as my friends began pursuing professional/personal development. They started bringing their books around, talking about what books they were reading, on and on. Suddenly at 24, reading was cool again, and if you weren’t reading, you were irresponsible and undisciplined.
What a shame that we let the opinions of our peers dictate our actions, sometimes even our interests. I’m so thankful for that first education class; it put me in an environment where I could be open about books and reading. As silly as that sounds, it helped. (Also there was this kid that always spiked his orange juice with vodka, and since the class was 2.5 hours long, by the end of it he was trying to answer every question and talking really loudly. That was entertaining too.)