I’ve always been called abnormal among my extended family.
I grew up telling myself if normal was what they were, then I’d rather be abnormal. Because normal meant raising girls to aspire for marriage only, raising girls to not have a voice and focus more on their physical beauty than their brains.
Normal meant sitting down after lunch to gossip while the men went out for work, and sitting for hours waiting for a husband who can’t be bothered to exchange two words with you. Normal meant to be patient with physical and verbal abuse and to always smile and nod to whatever a guy says even if he sounded like an imbecile.
In that sense, my parents never raised me to be normal. They gave me the same opportunities they gave my brothers.
And they gave me access to books.
It would be an understatement to say books changed my life.
Books transformed my life.
Wherever I went, I was different. Among my schoolmates, I was that girl from Kenya who looked Arab. Among my extended family, I was that nerd who always had her nose in a book even when she was supposed to be cooking. Yet among books, I always felt at home.
I read “A walk to remember” so many times, it broke my heart every single time. The Gift was another book I read more than once because of this quote,
“Maybe some people just aren’t meant to be in our lives forever. Maybe some people are just passing through. It’s like some people just come through our lives to bring us something: a gift, a blessing, a lesson we need to learn. And that’s why they’re here. You’ll have that gift forever.”
And recently I’ve had a really personal relationship with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (maybe if you continue reading my writings, you’ll find out one day).
I loved reading so much, I didn’t stop with fiction books.
I would even read my school textbooks from cover to cover.
Then I would find another textbook on the subject and start reading.
Explains my fascination with science.
Whenever I went to bed, there was usually a pile of books by my pillow.
And sometimes when I turned in bed, they would be fall and hit the ground with a thud, waking me.
I loved books because they made me envision more for myself. While girls my age were dreaming about their prince charming and their perfect wedding, designing their lives around this person who would show up and save them, I went out, and saved myself.
So now when I’m asked, what my biggest fear is, the answer is simple…
“My biggest fear is to be normal.”
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Originally published at medium.com