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Please Do Not Pity Me Because I Do Not Read for Fun

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I love social media, I especially love following inspirational posts and all of the different self-esteem-boosting videos that accompany them. I enjoy reading the opinions of the people who comment their feedback on the post, and I revel in the different viewpoints that people have on the same subject. It makes me remember how vastly diverse humanity is and how our perceptions are shaped by individual experiences. I think it is beautiful.

I was scrolling through my media posts as I do daily, and I came across one that saddened me. It talked about how people who read books are more intelligent and creative than those who do not. The article I feel was a little narrowed in perspective, but what saddened me the most was the comments of people who were showing great pity to those who do not read for fun, like it was unbelievably uncultured not to enjoy the process of reading.

For the record, I am a strong, intelligent, independent woman who so happens not to enjoy reading for fun. I do not read for fun because my brain processes information in a way that makes it not enjoyable for me to do so. At the age of 25, I was diagnosed with dyslexia with possible dyspraxia. I also have sensory processing difficulties and attention difficulties. The experience of reading a book is not enjoyable for me. The most noticeable thing that happens when I read is that I get very tired. I get tired in a different way than if I was writing. The physical act of reading exhausts me to the point that a chapter of a book would cause me to go and lie down.

The second element of reading a book that hinders my enjoyment of it is following a narrative. My short-term memory is affected, and the nature of reading books is that you read them over a period of time. For me, when I go back to a book I was reading the previous day, I have limited recollection of what I have read. Therefore it makes the story confusing, and it becomes more of a task of looking for clues as to what is going on than actually following a story.

Lastly my ability to focus is also affected. The lighting in the room might cause me to squint, and you can’t exactly read in the dark.  I also need perfect conditions with no additional noises so I can concentrate, which again is not conducive to my household of three children. I do not know if I would enjoy reading if I didn’t have these difficulties. I suspect I might, but who knows!

Reading the comments that people made in relation to reading and intelligence made me question my own intelligence. If it wasn’t for my self-assurance and understanding of where my difficulties lie, it may have affected my confidence a little as well. What this experience has affirmed to me is that people will not understand about different thinkers unless they are educated about these differences. It is not a reflection of my worth but rather an indication of their understanding when people judge a person based on a specific criteria. It has also affirmed to me that although dyslexia is a known condition to many, how it can impact the person with it may be less understood.

I am pretty sure I will always be one of those people who doesn’t read books for fun, and this is OK to me. I hope that in the future there is more understanding within the general public about different thinkers, and that just because someone does or doesn’t do something outside of what is deemed “the norm,” they aren’t ridiculed or made to feel less-than because of it. Until that day comes I suppose all we can do is to continue to raise awareness of the impacts of these differences in hope that one day they will be understood.

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Originally published: January 23, 2017
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