College Essay: Books as Refuge

Walking into the hospital at 9 years old and going to see my father, who got in an accident due to his alcoholism, I winced at the sick feeling creeping into the pit of my stomach. I was just in class 30 minutes ago, and now I’m sitting in a cold and dispiriting room. My family members walk back and forth in the room in distress, as my thoughts are overcome with worry. Feeling bewildered and astray, I look for anything to distract me. Desperation made me grab the book I saw on the waiting room table. My eyes like a statue on the page as I was trying to ignore the static sound of the people around me.

Enjoyment is not the word I would use to describe my desire to read at the time, rather an escape. When reading, the world around me and all the problems became invisible to me. When family issues would arise, I would merely open my book and ignore them. This habit became a norm throughout those difficult years. 

My father’s alcoholism affected my family’s financial and emotional well-being long after this incident. Due to my family’s situation at the time, stability was not an ordinary occurrence in my life, and I often felt as if I wasn’t in control. Years later, over the course of my parents’ difficult divorce, my siblings and I all deployed different tools to overcome our challenges. Mine continued to be reading and academics. I used these two things to help understand my emotions, while also benefiting myself with the motivation of creating a better future.

At the beginning of sophomore year, I moved to a new city where I didn’t know anyone. I walked into the new school with the same worry I had felt at 9 years old in the hospital. I thought of all the stories I had read that helped me get through that challenging time in my life, and how my passion for academics helped me feel in control and gave me power. As I entered my first class, a quote from my favorite novel, “The Fellowship and the Ring,” replayed in my head: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time we have been given.”

Many events have been thrown at me throughout my life that at times feel overwhelming and uncontrollable. Yet, I have found hope throughout all of them and I find the best in every situation. I am grateful I haven’t had an easy life, because it has given me the opportunity to become independent and has given me strength.  

I use this same motivation in my day-to-day life, and while I am still learning, I know I can make it through anything. Now, I don’t only live through stories and use them as an escape, rather I live my own story; I am fully confident I am able and determined to do great things in my life.