One’s early years of development are often the most important in one’s life. They determine the type of person you are to become, socially, emotionally, and academically. A false start, often uncontrollable, can easily set one up for failure. That’s not to say it’s not impossible to recover. I had a very hard time fitting in as a child. I rarely talked. I often avoided conversation, and I didn’t do very well in school. Much of this boils down to one thing. Although I was born in the U.S., I never really felt like I belonged here. During my childhood that is. Most of this is due to the fact that I grew up in a Croatian household. My parents barely knew how to speak English, and Croatian was the language we spoke. Because of this it was very tough for me to make friends, and interact with others when I started school. I was often left out in a corner, quietly, listening to the laughs of others. In terms of reading and writing, I was in the lowest sticker color, yellow. This was in Kindergarten, and for me, it was by far my hardest year of schooling.
Luckily for me, in first grade, I was put into ESL (English as a second language). To say that this class saved me was an understatement. In this class, I met people like me. They too were in an unfamiliar world. One where they had trouble communicating and fitting in. Yes, none of us knew English, but we all knew what each of us was going through. In this class not only did I make friends, but I learned how to read and write. The teacher was incredibly supportive, and I genuinely enjoyed learning, especially with my new friends. My language skills improved massively during that time, not only because I spent time learning it, but because I was learning it with kids with shared experiences with me. In second grade I already improved massively. Reading became my clear new hobby. I always looked forward to reading in school, and after school, I would always go to the public library to find more books and read.
I was lucky I found reading as a hobby because when I was diagnosed with cancer in second grade, it was one of the only things I was able to cling to. I was forced to stay in the hospital for 6 months, unable to go outside, and unable to see my friends. I would have been lost if it was not for my books. It was a way for me to go into another world and forget about the life I was living. I could go on adventures all over the world, and experience different things all from my hospital bed. With reading, and a little bit of Chemo Therapy, I was able to come out of my illness stronger. Reading has helped me throughout my life, and it holds a special place in my heart. To this day I still read for fun, admittedly not as much as before. Without reading I would not be the person I am today.
To me, reading was never just a hassle. I never skimmed past a book or story. I took every book seriously. The author intended to share something with the world, and I would be determined to figure this out. My early experiences as a reader have definitely helped the way I read as I never try to skip details. I always want to gain the most I can from a text, and that helps me both in school and out. My childhood was definitely hard, but out of it came new experiences and traits that I still cherish today.
Let’s make something together.