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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UMKC chapter.

I celebrated the first time I finished an entire chapter book in one day as a kid. I was so proud of myself. Sure, it was a Junie B. Jones book, but that still counts. With newfound confidence, I began stacking, sorting and cataloging (yes, cataloging) my book collection. Fantasy, romance, historical fiction—everything had a special place on my shelves. By the time I was eleven, it was all in alphabetical order by author, and books in the same series were meticulously kept together. But the day I graduated high school, somehow, I owned less than ten novels. 

As I’ve gotten older, reading has sadly found its way out of my daily life. It became more and more difficult to pick up a book, and throughout my teenage years, I slowly donated away my old ones. The demands of college, work and life always snaked their way between me and the next page of a good story. From what I hear from my friends, it’s become that way for a lot of people too. 

Over the past year or so, I’ve tried my best to get back into reading. It hasn’t been easy—often at the end of a long day it’s easier to reach for the TV remote than a book. The motivation and brain power I have quickly get spent on other necessary things like paying bills and making dinner. Reading feels like more work.

One of the ways I challenge myself now is by setting goals for myself. This year, one of my goals is to read at least one book a month. But I’ll admit, I’ve already failed. In January, I didn’t finish the book I was supposed to read, Loveboat Reunion by Abigail Hing Wen, by the end of the month. In fact, it took me until March. I was able to finish my February read, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and I have started my March one, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, but the pressure of the beginning of the semester got to me and I was not as successful with my first book of the year. But you know what? That’s okay. 

I may have the heart of an avid reader, but not so much time or energy anymore. Though I’m slowly getting better, I’m still not the same as I was when I was a kid. I always beat myself up when I don’t reach my reading goals for the month. I’ve tried list after list of “books that will get you back into reading,” and they work for a while, but then life grabs hold of me again and I fall off the bandwagon. I’m sure at this point I own more books I haven’t read than ones I have. 

What I’ve come to realize is that our standards for our adult selves should not be the same as when we were children. Working at a lemonade stand one day over the summer is much different from working part-time and being a full-time student year-round. Maybe, though we don’t read nearly as much anymore, we should still get to call ourselves avid readers. Despite everything, we are still making the conscious decision to fill as much of our free time with reading as we can. It’s time to understand that it’s okay if some days, and some months, we just can’t. 

Rian Snead (they/them) is currently a student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City majoring in health sciences and pursuing a minor in race, ethnic and gender studies. They were born in KC and grew up in Liberty, Missouri. In addition to writing imaginative stories, they love to write about history, health care and LGBT+ topics.