I’ve written about being the “Belle” of the family; you know, being the weird one because she had her nose stuck in a book. I’ve also written how books can improve your sex life. What I haven’t written about, is how books helped me with my anxiety. So, here goes.
Very early on I was labeled as ‘shy’ by my parents. They would also say, “Once you get her talking, though, she won’t shut up.” I wasn’t shy, I was calculating. And once I was done calculating, indeed, you could not get me to shut up. Over the years, I heard my parents say this hundreds of times. Eventually, I started to believe that people did not care about what I had to say, everyone just wanted me to shut-up. Ultimately, I became quiet, too nervous to speak up. And further retreated into my book-corner, living vicariously through the wonderfully rebellious and powerful women I read about.
I realize this is not the sole reason for my anxiety, but it sure the hell didn’t help. Many of you may not know this, but I graduated with a degree in teaching. I had the most wonderful mentor who once told our class, “There’s no such thing as a shy person, only people who have been labeled as shy.” I could argue her statement, but I don’t want to. I liked the way it made me feel. Her comment was the foundation of a new thought-process. Since then, with every book I picked up, I absorbed the woman-power personas of the characters, I no longer wanted to live vicariously.
Richelle Mead showed me what a physically strong female looks like, Jennifer Armentrout showed me what an introvert who learns to sparkle- feels like. Susan Ee taught me to never feel inferior. To anyone. Ever. These characters became my mentors, among hundreds of others. And slowly, these fierce women outweighed the hundreds of times I heard “she won’t shut-up.”
Emma Watson once said “I’m a feminist, but I think that romance has been taken away a bit for my generation. I think that what people connect with in novels is this idea of an overpowering, encompassing love- and it being more important and special than anything else.” So, the next time you pick up your book, enjoy the love, but notice the woman. Notice the way she doesn’t take no for an answer, and never stops fighting for whatever rebellion is currently brewing.
Actions hurt, but labels hurt worse. Be kind with your words, emulate the characters you love, and grow into the person you want to be. If you feel alone, remember you aren’t, because behind that character you read about, is an author who felt the same way at some point or another. And don’t forget to NEVER shut-up.