During college an odd thing began to happen that I have termed “the college guilt.” Meaning you are doing something that gives you pleasure, but you know there is school work to be done so you stop doing that action.
While at school I would not read for fun. My major required between 200-400 pages of reading a week. Every time I would pick up a novel I enjoyed a guilty feeling would bubble up. I knew I had pages to read for class and I could not shake that from my mind. This turned the pleasure of reading into something uncomfortable and I quickly gave into the negative feelings. My book would sit on the shelf staring at me for weeks or months. I began to not even pick up a book that was not for school work. Why did this happen with reading? I know I waste time like everyone else yet I could not find 15 minutes a day to read? Something was wrong with this picture.
It took me a very long time to figure out a possible answer. At first I thought I was self-punishing myself by withholding something I love, which might be part of the answer. A much larger part is I had a very immature relationship with reading. This seems like an odd contradiction. I am reading so how could that possibly be immature? The way I read was the true issue. I would not open up a book for 20 or 30 minutes. No, instead I would binge read for hours! I remember sitting for three or seven hours reading when I was a teenager. At college I could not do that and part of me knew that I would have to come out of my mind theater within a short time frame. So, in a weird way since I would not be able to read for hours I simply didn’t read.
My reading habits were not flexible and in the end they were destructive. If I read 15 to 20 minutes a day for fun I could have read 50 to 80 books in the four years I was at college! Imagine what the ideas I would have been exposed to and all the pleasure I missed. I have worked hard to build a better relationship with my reading habits. I do sometimes read for hours at a time, but that is not what I require to enjoy a book. The important thing is I am doing something I love for a few minutes everyday. This lesson about healthy relationship with things or actions extends beyond books and one to think about.