I grew up in a small suburb of Milwaukee, WI. I have memories of my mother reading to me to put me to sleep and of a large bookshelf in my room, packed to the brim with books. I would practice writing my name and other words at the kitchen table. Needless to say, reading and writing were important parts of my childhood. My birthday lines up just after the start of the school year, so my parents pushed for me to begin kindergarten when I was only 4. This led to me being essentially a year younger than almost all of my peers for the rest of my academic career. However, despite the age gap, I still performed well compared to my classmates, keeping up with them throughout elementary and middle school without being held back. During this time, I would often listen to books on tape or read until I would fall asleep at night. The Harry Potter series especially helped me develop my comprehension skills, as I would discuss the events with my mother, who was an avid fan. Writing, however, took a backseat to reading and became just something to do for school.
When I began high school, I started the upper level english track my school offered. During this time, reading and writing really became inseparable as my writing was almost always based on something I had read. It was at this point that analysis began to weave its way into my writing, as my teachers were no longer just looking for plot details, but also for our interpretation of them. Writing was now riding shotgun with reading as a result. Also around this time I began my hobby of video games, which helped greatly increase my appreciation for storytelling, both formal, which included the stories of the games, and informal, including the stories I created for myself through my actions in them.
This gets to the heart of why I think literature, and literary analysis by extension, is important. The stories we tell and how we tell them open our eyes to new ideas and ways of thinking. They break us out of our shells of current knowledge and challenge us in ways real life can’t. I’ve read literature and played video games that challenged my understanding of things ranging from government and society to relationships and love to war and peace. This semester alone I have tackled topics such as surveillance and how it affects society, gender roles, socialism, how history affects literature, and many other topics. These are all things that are difficult for me to see and think about in my own life alone. However literature and literary analysis let me play in these sandboxes through what others write about them.
These ideas were further cemented in my life once I started college at St. Norbert. I started by majoring in business and economics. However, halfway through my second year, I realized I was miserable in my business classes. After being prodded by a friend about what I might rather do, I settled on something I thought I was good at: writing. And so I began to work towards an english minor. This greatly boosted my happiness as my drive in these classes was much higher and I achieved better work. And a large part of that has to do with the value literature and analysis brings to my life. I am now ending my time at SNC, but going forward I hope to incorporate this further into my life. This may be with a career or simply with continuing to pursue knowledge through literature and analyzing it. Regardless, it will continue to have value in my life, regardless of where it takes me.