• Annette

A Case for Listening

When I was a kid I would devour books whole. Long car rides, short car rides, doctors’ appointments, lunchtime (any other introverts spend their middle school years in the library, too?), you name it I had a Nancy Drew, Babysitter’s Club, or Magic Treehouse book in the palms of my hands. By the end of my first year in college, I’d buried a lot of hobbies where I hid my ability to pick up the phone and catch up with old high school friends. So as things go, I adapted to my new ecosystem and formed new ties. We are always looking for community. I’ve always found storytelling to be a comforting avenue to community, mostly because it is so uniquely human. I think people that read more are challenged to assess problems, headlines, disagreements from multiple perspectives, with rebuttals from all angles. I knew I could get back that joy if I could manage my time more effectively, but by that time it was a fleeting desire, a spark that would disappear as quickly as the strike. Fast forward to three years after graduation, and I am working a job (not my current one, thank goodness) that I constantly tell myself I should be grateful to be employed at, but dread waking up for and run out from at o’clock. It was during this time I’d started listening to audiobooks again. I had listened to my first audiobook, When Breathe Becomes Air (beautiful story if you haven’t read it already), a year prior, mostly as a means to make the best use of my time during long commutes, but was also as a result of searching for pre-med inspiration because my post-bacc made me question why why why did I need organic chemistry and I needed a storyline to identify with. But this time I downloaded Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell on Audible. I listened to it three times in three days. It made me cry, laugh, ruminate, repeat x3, saving the crying for the car ride home. The stories gave me hope, motivated me to try a little harder today, tomorrow, and the days to follow. “Marita’s Bargain” was the chapter that inspired the first drafts of my personal statement for medical school. A real story about sacrifice, perseverance, and true grit. I saw qualities in myself in Marita, and she had no idea. That’s the power of storytelling. This was the beginning of me making time for reading again, and it was inspired by an audiobook. I say all of this to say, please read however your lifestyle allows. Not everyone can make time to read a book in a few days, a week, or even a month. Listening to an audiobook is just as good for your brain as reading a visual copy. Keep absorbing stories in the form of podcasts, magazine articles, novels, poetry, conversations. If it means something to you, then it just does.


It's November tomorrow. Just wow.