Please welcome Malka @ Paper Procrastinators to the blog today! She is going to share a very relatable post today: all about when college and anxiety rob you of your reading mojo. And guys, I have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I used to be a voracious reader, and that fell by the wayside in college completely. Mine too was because of anxiety and depression (not so much with the stress of college, because I was too much of a mess to care about that sort of thing ha). My point is, this is something that so many people struggle with, and I am so excited for you to read Malka’s post! 

When I began college a few years ago, it was a rough period for me. I had lots of difficult classes to contend with, and all of my friends were in a different country taking a gap year. It was pretty bad. I was overwhelmed with all my classes and the difficult commute I had to manage. I had a much smaller support system and couldn’t speak to my friends when I was having a bad day because of a difference in time zones, or conflicting schedules. But arguably the worst outcome of my freshman year of college was that I lost my ability to read for pleasure.

I was so focused on reading my textbooks and making sure that I was up to date on schoolwork, that whenever I picked up a book to read for pleasure, my brain would not accommodate. I couldn’t make sense of the words. It would take me 15 minutes to comprehend a single paragraph. I had no problems reading my textbooks, but the second I picked up a book to relax, I suddenly lost my ability to focus. My anxiety would get in the way, telling me that I could be reading a textbook now, that in fact I should. There was this constant alarm ringing in my brain telling me that I could not read this book and should give up.

And for the most part, I did. If you look at my Goodreads 2018 Challenge you can see that I only read 68 books, which is about half of the amount of books that I read in 2017. But if that wasn’t startling enough, I didn’t finish a single book in January, even when I was on vacation from school. Most of the books I read in 2018 were graphic novels, rereads, or books that had really simple writing that I could fly through.

Now, my brain in all its anxious glory, operates very logically. It doesn’t matter if the logic is flawed, 99% of the time there are rules that my brain decides to spring on me and I need to figure out how best to either tackle them or manage them. Since my brain created a “no reading for pleasure” rule, I needed to find some loophole, since I didn’t see an easy way around this. I couldn’t push pass this on my own, since I cannot control whether or not I comprehend what I read. But thankfully a solution presented itself in a slightly unusual way. I started a blog.

That might not seem like a good fix, but for my brain it was enough. See, now reading wasn’t just for pleasure, but it was an obligation as well. I needed to read in order to have content for my blog, the same way I needed to read my textbooks to be prepared for class. It wasn’t immediate, but I slowly have been able to read whatever, whenever. Now my lack of reading stems from not having the time to read, or not having a book I’m interested in on hand, rather than an inability to read.

I still have anxiety, I still have rough patches where my brain will change the rules on me. I know that blogging wasn’t a fix to all my issues with mental health, but it made a huge impact on my life and gave me back my ability to read. And for that I will forever be grateful.

About Malka

Malka is happiest when she gets to write paragraphs about herself in the third person. However, she also takes joy in reading cute and fluffy books that she then rants and raves about to all those within hearing distance. This blog is a way to give all those poor people a break. If Malka isn’t reading she’s probably doing something else bookish related like stalking Bookstagram or researching author events. On the rare occasions when she has her head out of a book, Malka can be found raiding her kitchen for baked goods and gummy bears. She loves learning random facts and tries not to let school get in the way of her education. As you can tell, Malka is not that interesting and will, therefore, end her bio here

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If you’ve been to college, did you find it hard/impossible to read? Or has another life experience robbed you of that love?

Posted October 11, 2019 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in #ShatteringStigmas, Giveaway, Guest Post / 5 Comments

5 responses to “TFW College and Anxiety Steal Your Love of Reading: A Guest Post

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    I used to read all the time–my mom used to have to tell me it was time for sleep. Then high school and college pressures took that precious time away and since I had so much required reading to do, reading became a chore, not a way to relax. So I stopped “recreational” reading until long after college. Now I need to read to relax before bed–so I get all my work done during the day with the carrot of my books waiting for me at the end of the race.

  2. Beth W

    “It doesn’t matter if the logic is flawed, 99% of the time there are rules that my brain decides to spring on me and I need to figure out how best to either tackle them or manage them.”
    Oh, I can relate to this so hard! TBH, half of why I majored in English (after failing out of the necessary classes for Marine Bio, my first love) is because I knew there would be mandatory reading of fiction, and I was in the same brain space where I was only reading textbooks and not allowing myself to read for joy. So I figured that was a good compromise. I’m glad you found a good coping mechanism to allow you to continue reading for pleasure!

  3. I’m so sorry you went through this Malka! But I’m glad you found a way to cope with it through blogging.
    I stopped reading for pleasure for quite a big chunk of university, but for me a lot of it was guilt. I felt like I should always be reading stuff for my classes, so I felt bad when I read anything that was just for me. So I stopped reading anything except required reading and textbooks. I only started reading properly again after I graduated, and that’s when I started my blog, which also helped me get back into it.

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