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Kendra Olson
Feb 19, 2018
In STORIES
I can't lie, I've had an incredible childhood. I am a lucky person. I have never had to worry about money or my education or my ambitions. But my life is not perfect -- no one's is. When I moved overseas before kindergarten I didn't know what to expect, I actually thought Switzerland was a fake or imaginary country. Our mom raised my sister and I as readers, and we spent every night before bed reading together. That was how we connected. When I moved back to the United States in fifth grade I experienced more culture-shock than I could have imagined. My life was spent driving to Italy or France on long weekends, going to school with people from around the entire world, and experiencing more as a seven-year-old than most experience in their life. Northern California was a bubble to me. So I went back to what I always knew: reading. I discovered books like "The Hunger Games" and fell in love with dystopia. I made friends because of reading, and it was the greatest time in my life. We then moved to New Jersey. It was unexpected and I was heartbroken because I tried to make such wonderful friends, and I had those friends, and I didn't want to leave them. So I chose to isolate myself a lot. I threw myself into books like never before, because at least it was something. I fell so deeply in love with characters and immersed myself in their worlds in order to feel like I was a part of something. Seventh and eighth grade were some of the worst years of my life. I chose to become someone who didn't believe in themselves and gave in to my anxiety and depression and anything negative in my life. I finally started going to therapy, and had to get a psychiatrist. The number of times I tried the unthinkable in the past five years terrifies me each day. In October of 2014 I went to my first New York Comic Con. The first panel I went to was on a Thursday night and it was mostly so I could see James Dashner. "The Maze Runner" books touched me so deeply because I never related to a character more than Newt. But it was that same night that I got to hear Pierce Brown talk for the first time, I was 13 years old and picked up "Red Rising" thinking that my mom would like it. That series changed my life (I have a video about it, going more in depth:) For the first time in my life I was getting to follow a series from the very beginning. From the first book, I got to be a part of something. And that made me feel special. I don't know what made it such a profound story outside of the obvious reasons (plot, character development etc...). Something about Pierce Brown himself resonated so deeply within me that when my mother met his mom, they talked about how on earth children with such deep imaginations and worlds in their heads can be raised. I sent Pierce a message about my experience with his books, and I'll never forget what he told me: "...that hope is already inside of you, books just help to bring in out..." I have lived in worlds and I have lived in bubbles. Books were the only sources of real life for me as a Third Culture Kid. No one I have met has shared my life aside from my family. It is so hard to connect to teenagers who have lived in one place their whole life. Who have had friends their whole life. Who have never been a part of more than one culture. I am indebted to literature and I never can repay the worlds that I have traveled to.
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Kendra Olson

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