1 MIN READCulture 16 June 2020
For days I've wanted to use a pen to get to the core of how I'm feeling. I've avoided the pen, but here I go with the contents of me.
How do I unpack 50 years of built-up anger, assumptions, fear, mistreatment, judgment, stress, frustration, missed opportunities, letdowns, rejections, disappointments, and lies?
How do I unpack 50 years of stares that linger too long, scraps instead of the best portion, unwanted handshakes, no invitations, whispers of secret plans, heads bowed or ducking out of avoidance, questions that shouldn't be asked, deflection, an immediate fear when looking through the rearview mirror wondering if the lights will come on, changing my driving plans to avoid the men and women in blue, assessing if an exit is safe to stop when on a road trip, and the turning of heads the other way when saying, "Hello?"
How do I unpack 50 years of an empty seat next to me, lunches alone, wondering if my skin tone will be rejected by students and colleagues, hoping someone who looks like me would be hired, looking at profiles and able to count on one hand who resembles me, voice silenced, ideas ignored, and the requirement to always perform head-n-shoulder above my counterparts?
How do I unpack 50 years of being told "no" with no reason, doors closed, higher rates, subpar services, cuts in lines, entitlement to the space occupied by me, and visions of unwarranted attacks?
[Perhaps I'm not supposed to unpack, 'cause where would I put the contents of me.]
Please note: SWAAY typically tends to share longer op-eds, however, we decided to break our editorial standards in this case due to the power and simplicty of this piece.
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It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.