Vesela is 25 years old, and she is native from Bulgaria. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in physiology at McGill University, in Canada, Montréal. With a passion for health and woman’s right, she is achieving her master’s degree in public health and international health at the University of Montréal. When we met through a common association, I admired her strong will. Therefore, I invited her to take part in Women of the World.
My passion for literature has always been an essential part of my life. Still to this day, my mother is proudly saying that I learned to read even before enrolling in formal schooling. Thinking back now, I realize what a great impact reading has had in my personal development and in shaping the person I was to become.
When I immigrated to a new country at the age of seven and had to learn, not one, but two new languages, I used literature as a way to adapt to my new environment. When I could not make friends or blend in because I was different from all the other kids, literature was a comforting presence. I grew up as one of the “Harry Potter” kids, dreaming about wizards, magic creatures and spells. When I was bullied in school for my different background, I gained courage by reading about Harry standing up to Draco Malfoy. When I was feeling lonely and not quite at home, I found comfort in the cozy common rooms of Hogwarts. Looking back now, these childhood fantasies might seem silly, but they helped me foster resilience in the face of hardship and uncertainty, a quality that I pride myself in every single day.
As I grew up, literature anchored itself in my everyday life and became more than just a hobby. During my undergraduate studies, I started to understand literature as a way to connect with others. Despite pursuing a traditional health science curriculum, I made an effort to include literature classes in my education. What a wonder to discover that my love for literature could be shared with others and enhanced through thoughtful discussions! It was at that time that I was also introduced to some of the most significant voices in literary history. As I tried to figure out what career to pursue and how to develop my voice, I turned to Márquez, Nabokov, Morrison, Tolstoy, Atwood, Brontë, and many more, for guidance. By reading about other thoughts and opinions, I was prompted to examine my own values and understanding of the world. By reading about other lived realities and universal human emotions, I developed compassion for the people around me and for myself. By reading about other people’s struggles, I was forced to face and address my own inner turmoil. In that sense, reading is just as humbling as it is empowering, and engaging with literature is more than a passive activity. Reading is a transformative process that continuously shapes your thoughts, actions and feelings.
For me, ultimately, literature represents a way to connect with others and understand the world around us. It might sound contradictory that an activity done solitarily is also a way to connect with others. But that is the beauty of literature. Most people think that they are alone when they read. The truth is, reading allows you to connect with centuries of collective thoughts and feelings from past generations. No literature is written in isolation. All literature is entrenched in the history of humanity and helps us better understand what it means to be human.
Here is what I want to leave you with; the next time you are feeling sad, anxious and overwhelmed, pick up a book. When you are faced with difficult decisions or don’t know which path to take, pick up a book. Chances are that someone, at some point in time, has been through something similar and has written about it.
– Vesela, October 16th, 2020
Vesela’s Favorite Timeless Books:
- “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, by Gabriel García Márquez
- “Beloved”, by Toni Morrison
- “Lolita”, by Vladimir Nabokov,
- “Anna Karenina”, by Leo Tolstoy
- “Alias Grace”, by Margaret Atwood