As soon as I had been taught to read, I just couldn't put the books down. I woke up with them, and went to sleep with them, and soon I was more familiar with the library then with school. I realised my world had become so much bigger. And even though my fantasy was big already, knowing there were so many books out there, each with their own unique story, made me feel confined in my imagination. I wanted to explore more of the world, and I was able to do just that, through the books I read.
You see, looking back on my childhood, while I'm at the brink of turning 18 (which means I'm legally an adult in my country, the Netherlands), I noticed a few interesting things. I realised I didn't have a good childhood. Although, if you'd have asked me, I would have told you I was a happy kid. And I was, kind of. I just never realised my situation wasn't healthy, and I wasn't happy, and that it confined my mental growth. Partly because of that, making friends and being social were very hard for me. That's probably the reason I found myself often alone. That wasn't healthy either, but it granted me the chance to escape. To escape to another country or sometimes even world where magic exists. Where the good always outweights the evil. Where animals could speak and people were having fun with them instead of killing them for fun. You'd probably be surprised if you knew how many children books there are about children who end up in some place bad and they turn out to become totally awesome and be able to withstand everything thrown in their path on their way back to normality.
In this period of my life, I could just sit down and read for hours on end. And everytime I put down a book, I felt different. Stronger, often, but also vulnerable, happy or angry. Dissapointment always followed when I realised it was only real in my head. But I did enjoy those other feelings, feelings of pleasure, and the sensation of having a completely empty head and not having to think about your own situation.
And especially that last part has been life saving for me. You see, I have been through a hard time. I went to a place which probably was and is better for me, but it wasn't a pleasant place to be. I started feeling lonely, even though my social skills were getting better and I had more real friends than ever. I started feeling unwanted, and a failure because I felt that nothing I did went right or was good enough. I started hurting myself, and at one point I even contemplated suicide. But you see, because of all my problems and the busy life I lead, I totally forgot the freedom reading had always brought me. And at one point, when I was really down, I picked up a random book from my closet, and started reading. It was a childs book, about horses. And while reading I remembered what it was like, being lost in another world, escaping from the present. And by reading, my situation suddenly became much more bearable.
And so, reading did not only save my life, but also offered me a handhold for finding my passion, for I discovered my heart lies with horses through the books I read.