Today on Shattering Stigmas, I’m so excited to welcome Ace to the blog to discuss the way reading provides solace and support for her anxiety. This post has so much heart and voice, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you. You can find Ace on Twitter, Instagram, her blog and her BookTube channel.
It started with my glasses.
As a kid, I always tried reading books at night which caused my eyesight to grow terribly at a young age. Reading books became my coping mechanism to my social anxiety and depression. At a young age I was always called “shy and quiet” when I always thought this was wrong because I was never quiet around people I were comfortable with. My classmates made me anxious especially being one of the few Asian kids. I wore thick glasses to school and always carried my books around and with that I experienced bullying in 1st grade. The worst part of all this was being called ling ling. This was the first of the many.
In high school my confidence grew as I became a person liked by many in my class. I started a BookTube channel in my junior year and only shared it with my one best friend who I thought I could trust. A few days later I received videos from some of our mutual friends of them watching my videos in her living room. She showed them my BookTube. I was frozen. I didn’t know what to do except watch the videos of them laughing.
My depression and social anxiety grew as I forced myself to talk to literally everyone. I tried fitting into a socially acceptable person. For about 3 years I did not pick up a book and didn’t know what to do. I was careful not to slip up and show the real me. Me, who loves to read books and occasionally geek out about video games. The one who delves deep into books and films and analyzes and makes connections. I kept all of this to myself because the people I associated with did not value these thoughts.
Throughout my life I experienced disrespect for simply being me and what I loved to do. This caused me to be aware of everything I did and said. I was always on edge, making sure I was socially acceptable. I hated reading and myself. Why was reading a book seen as something lame?
With everything going on in 2020, I decided it was time I made myself happy. I began reading again and distanced myself from people to make time for myself. This of course went as planned as everyone was in quarantine.
I started a BookTube channel again.
Joining the book community made me happy. I met people I can discuss books with and delve deeper into how these books mean to us. But this happiness was only on the surface.
My anxiety caused me to overthink everything. Was I bothering people by replying to their tweets all the time? Do I sound annoying in my videos? It continuously grew especially with me talking about books being out in the open on the internet where everyone and anyone can see. I didn’t want to repeat what happened in the past. It’s so hard to cope with my depression and anxiety when doing what I love also contributes to it.
Why was reading a book seen as something lame?
Whenever I finish a book, I feel ecstatic but then I look around me and realize I am all alone. I grab my phone and scroll through my messages, who do I tell? Which friend will listen to the exhilarating feeling I just felt? It’s been 3 months since I’ve started my BookTube and blog and I’ve only trusted 2 people with seeing it. I break down every time I am reminded of this. How do I know they won’t do the same thing my apparent best friend did?
I’ve seen book bloggers and bookstagrammers desperately try to hide their account from people they know locally. I’ve seen people go on private if there is even a sign that someone they know is about to find their account. It is so hard for people to enjoy the things they love without being shamed and feel the need to hide it. I tell my story now and hope that people would stop shaming people for the things they enjoy.
PLEASE stop shaming people.
There shouldn’t even be such a thing as a socially acceptable hobby.
You never know what is going on in people’s lives and that one thing they keep talking about, could be the only thing that’s helping them cope right now. Listen to your friends, don’t turn them away. When they share their excitement to you that means they trust you with this and they care about what you think. Support them with even just encouraging words. It’s not hard to say how happy you are for them.
I personally struggle with anxiety and worry about everything, but reading helps me and makes me happy.