I grew up in a really odd technological age with a traditional family. There were a lot of rules surrounding technology for me. I would only be able to watch TV at night with my family. I could watch Saturday morning cartoons. I was not allowed a computer in my room until I begged for it and proved I was responsible. And I was not allowed a phone until high school. All these rules seem like a lot today, but 20 years ago when I was born, they made sense.
I remember being young and so jealous of all my friends who could watch TV whenever they wanted for as long as they wanted, the ones who had iPads and unlimited screen time, and the ones who had no rules surrounding the technology.
When I reached a certain age, though, I stopped being envious and was glad that my parents pushed me to do well in school and refrain from letting technology take over my life. I am now in college and have unlimited screen time, and I no longer doubt the phrase, “It will rot your brain.” I have seen what it has done to my peers, and, unfortunately, me as well. I am happy that my parents introduced me to the concept of reading and writing when they did, because they unknowingly shaped me.
My friends got in trouble for staying up late on their phones while I was getting in trouble for sneaking a book and a flashlight to read under my blanket. Books became a safe space for me, just like they have become for so many before me, and hopefully after me. I was in a new world, a world where I went to school with Junie B. Jones, where the B stands for Beatrice. I went on adventures in a magic tree house where I saw the world and tried to not interfere. I traveled around the world and saw everything that I still one day dream of one day seeing. I met my idols–Hermonie Granger, Tris Prior, Asher, Katniss, Sherlock Holmes, and so many more. I lived the life that I always wanted to.
I am who I am because I lived in a world of books. I focused on always wanting to learn more. I pushed myself everywhere I could. I am now a junior in college pursuing my dreams. I am studying political science so I can eventually go to law school and become a judge. I am also studying English, so I can make the little me inside me happy by discussing and reading books every day. I am interning here at SAFTA, so I can have an outlet where I write and interact with those who are making the books that future little girls will be reading under their blankets.
I am one to take every opportunity that comes my way. Life is truly what one makes of it. I have been able to travel to another country to teach English to children, to volunteer in prisons to help inmates get their GED, and to plan and run events with multi-thousand dollar budgets, all while working to pursue my education. Sometimes I feel that my life is a book that I would have loved to read as a child. A book about a young girl who does everything she can despite so many obstacles. A book filled with adventures and a plot twist at every corner.
I’ve been really lucky in life. I have a family who pushed me to read and write and use every part of my brain. I have friends who challenged me to do more and be the best version of myself. And I have books. Books that opened my eyes to a world on paper that I could step into whenever I felt alone.
Zoe Sweet is a writer, editor, and intern located in Chester, PA. She serves as the editor of Widener Ink, Widener’s literary journal, writes for The Blue and Gold, and is an intern at SAFTA. She is currently studying Political Science and English with hopes of one day being a judge.