Column: Find the words, find yourself

TRL’s Ashlan Morgan expresses her struggles with reading

Watching has replaced reading. The pastime of getting lost in a novel has transitioned to the hollow trance of scrolling through our social media. Following paperback stories swapped for binge-watching shows. Staring at our screens has become so simple that the mundane activity of reading now seems like a chore. As we transition into an age where screens are more possessed than paper, the magnificent art of reading will soon be forgotten.

I have always valued reading; however, as I live in this time where technology is the norm, I have fallen guilty of neglecting my bookshelf. Picking up my phone is convenient and will always give me some form of temporary distraction. After the few minutes, I allow myself to scroll, that pulsating blue light of the screen becomes an addictive trap for my mind. I always close my phone feeling a sense of… absence.

The draining of my battery alongside my fulfillment of instant stimulation haunted me. One day, I forced myself to pick up one of the books I bought six months prior and started flipping the pages. That one book turned into two, which turned into ten, and that turned into thirty. The marathon of reading felt exhilarating. I remembered the refreshing rush of falling into the escapism of novels- to explore a completely different world using the simplicity of words on a page. I never put my book down feeling defeated, lazy or hollow; instead, I felt excited, inspired and most importantly: seen.

What we cannot be too sure of finding in social media is ourselves. We have all heard it before: the consequences of social media: the unrealistic expectations set and the way comparison consumes us. We are all greatly aware of every warning toward it, and a piece of advice to guard against it. I can’t deny there are some positive aspects: social media allows us to find people who feel our same emotions or share our experiences; however, nothing can be more steadfast in dependability than a book.

I can tell you one thing: we can be certain of finding ourselves in books.

Reading provides thousands upon thousands of endless possibilities. As one loves a genre of a movie, one can find the respective love in a genre of books. As one can relate to a video on social media, one can similarly empathize with the entire life and being of a character. Although picking up the habit of reading ensues trial and error, the act of finding a worthwhile book brings great fulfillment. The captivation of imagery, metaphors, adventures and momentous quotes provides us with an abundance of excitement and perspective.

Alas, reading slumps are inevitable and a universal experience for all readers alike. School becomes overbearing and the convenience of picking up my phone is hard to pass up. Suddenly, I forget everything I ever praised about reading and easily forget every book on my shelf. The addiction to the screen takes over, and I have lost myself again.

It is a cycle that is hard to break. Nearly impossible sometimes.

However, a spark will one day reignite that passion for reading. I’ll reach for a book, open its pages and dive into a new story. I’ll find myself once more and question why I ever gave up the journey. I’ll realize how much greater books are than that blinding artificial screen that has attempted to win the fight of my eyes and mind.

I urge humankind to turn back to reading. That doesn’t mean giving up screens, but it certainly means to stop depending on them for lasting satisfaction. Reading is a privilege of entertainment, knowledge and self-discovery. I hope people begin to pursue the art once more, and that they will remember what it felt like for reading to not be a mind-draining chore.

The cycle of turning back to the screen cannot prevail and take away all we have discovered in ourselves through reading. We must continue to find words we love and witness how authors can so brilliantly make us feel seen. Because when you find the words, you find yourself.