Ever since I can remember, I've lived in some type of shadow. Maybe it was my older sister's shadow, my mom's shadow, my friends' shadow, or even the shadow of my own expectations, there's been a shadow in my life. I was hiding behind a mask that I had created for myself. I was the smart, quiet guy, I had friends and I was perfectly average. But I was lonely. I was lonely because I wasn't myself. I was playing a character in a story that I was supposed to be writing, and books changed that. If I were to choose the books that have saved my life, they would be Paper Towns by John Green, Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Paper Towns taught me that sometimes people are just people. People are not ideas or stories, they're just people. I was just a person, not an expectation. Openly Straight taught me that I shouldn't be ashamed of who I am and that I shouldn't try to be something I'm not. I didn't need a mask to be able to live a "normal" life, I should be able to be openly me, whoever that was. Ari and Dante taught me that I shouldn't be ashamed of what or who I loved. Love is more powerful than whatever shadow I was in, even if that love was self-love. Books gave the chance to remove the mask I had made, they helped me become the author of my life, not the supporting character, and they helped me see that there was nothing else I could be than openly honestly myself.
To whoever reads this, even if you don't like to read (which is totally okay!), don't be afraid to be openly you. You are the author of your own story. You are not alone. The mask is not forever. Go forward and love whatever and whoever you want (especially if its yourself!!!!)