My fondness of reading did not begin because of some innocent love affair with words.
No, it was prompted by pure fear.
The reality I had constructed as a child was very complex. When we began to have vocabulary tests in school, I realized I had never heard any of these words before. Now I know that I probably had heard those words but because they were unfamiliar and did not pertain to me I ignored them. However, my belief was once I successfully learned these words my classmates and I would integrate them into normal conversations because that is what adults did.
I believed that adults did not actually speak the way they spoke in front of us, kids. I thought their vocabularies were much more advanced and so complicated that if I were to hear their true voices, it would sound like an entirely different language.
To me, civilization was a club. And I did not want to be rejected.
What I feared most was not being able to be a part of this future society I built up in my mind where all the smart adults used big words and talked about big, important things to solve big, important problems.
Maybe I didn't have the capacity to memorize all these words. What if by continuing to speak the way I always have and mimicking the way my parents are speaking to me (which could not be the correct way to form sentences) I would end up in a never-ending spiral of dumb? What will they do with me if I turn out to be incapable of functioning in society?
I thought that if I did not memorize all these big words (like gregarious) then I would be put on some island for dumb people and not be allowed to rule over my own life.
Thinking about it now, I realize that being stuck on an island with a television instead of being a productive member of society for the rest of my life is not exactly something I should have been afraid of happening. But, the idea that I might not be able to keep up with the world was incredibly terrifying to me.
Getting a tan is still pretty terrifying, too.
So, I began to read books and skim dictionaries so that there was no way my future would be spent on Dumb Island. Somewhere between compulsiveness and fear, I found myself enjoying books and continued once the version of reality I had taught myself proved to be a lie.
When I finally realized that all those years my parents spoke with simple words they weren't talking down to me, but speaking the way they always do, I was sad.
I did all that work for nothing!