May 29, 2024

Dear Socrates,
I used to read all the time as a kid, but when it started to become an assignment and not a choice, I stopped entirely. Now I can’t get back into it… what do I do?
I’ll Just Watch the Movies

Hi Movies,
Getting into reading again after a long break can be rough. In my experience, people who used to be voracious readers but aren’t anymore sometimes have pretty bad self-images of themselves. They were bright, and they used to think everything was easy to understand, but when something actually challenged them? They lost interest. Maybe this applies to you; maybe it doesn’t. Just something to think about.

Either way, I think trying to force yourself to just start reading something is not the way to go; it’s just adding undue pressure onto yourself. If you want to start reading again, follow your interests. Find what you want to know more about—a question burning inside your head—and go from there. What do you search for on YouTube? What keeps you up when you’re trying to sleep? If you’re trying to find something interesting to read, those are the paths that I would go down. On the other hand, you might find it easier to ease your way back into reading by starting out with audiobooks, or even podcasts, and then slowly transitioning back over to paper-and-ink books (which, by the way, are way better than kindles).

You used to read all the time, right? Have you ever thought about why? What made reading so enjoyable for you back then? There was something burning inside of you; if you ask me, that’s the key. You’ve got to find something, anything, that reignites that flame inside of you. Once you find that, you’ll have no problem reading.
Good luck!

P.S. One of my students actually has some great writing; you should give him a read. Just look for “The Republic” in your local library.

Hi, Socrates—
Let me start off by saying that I love my coworkers and where I work. However, they go out for lunches at least once a week and they always expect me to come with. If I say I’m not going, they keep asking questions and pestering me about it until I give in. The thing is, I’m basically broke and I can’t afford to keep this up. However, I really have fun with them and I don’t want to lose their friendships. Do I tell my coworkers that I can’t go out every week for lunch with them? And how?
Broke and Woke

Hi Woke,
I’m sorry to hear about your financial troubles; I’ve had similar troubles my whole life… but hey. At least I’m not a Sophist. And what I lack in wealth, I can (hopefully) make up for in advice.

Personally, as someone who’s also basically broke, I think you should be honest with them. If they judge you, then that’s their loss. By keeping up the charade, you’re restricting your own freedom; you’re letting your insecurity control your actions. Caring too much about what they’ll think will really only hurt you and your bank account. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of people who do things just for money. I care about the real stuff—stuff like souls—and it’s not good for your soul to run yourself into debt. (Now, whether or not souls are real? We can discuss that another time.) Going out to lunch with them may be fun, but ultimately, it’s hurting you. If you can’t afford it, do what’s best for you: don’t go.

How you tell them depends on you. But how I would tell them if I were you? Well, imagine this: they’re all getting ready to leave, and you’re lagging behind; finally, someone asks if you’re coming. Here it is—the moment you’ve been waiting for—and what do you say? “Oh, thanks for inviting me, guys. I wish I could, but I’m trying to stick to a budget, and I just can’t afford lunch today.” If you don’t feel comfortable telling them outright about your financial situation, you could always suggest hanging out with them a different time. That way, you can pick the activity, and budget for it accordingly. But however you go about it, what matters is that you do what’s best for you.
Hope this helps you.

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