Monday, April 27, 2009

On Reality

Well, I finally got these. And it only took me seven years.In 46 days, I will be a college graduate. I always thought that having a degree would make me intelligent. That maybe, through all the hours of reading and writing and class lecture and note taking I would come out on the other side and be ready for the job market, ready to win the Pulitzer, ready to conquer Jeopardy.

I thought I would know everything there was to know about Faulkner, Joyce, Hemingway, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Plath, Browning and Twain. I thought I would be the rising star of the children's literature community.
And at the very least, I thought I would have a buxom vocabulary.
But after all the tuition, textbooks, and cram sessions I realized, too late, that those were pretty lofty goals, that I am, after all, just another college kid.
And the biggest lesson I've learned has nothing to do with literature or the art of writing. The lesson is this: there is a lot to learn, and I don't know jack squat.
So now I have these weird mixed up feelings inside. What the frak do I do now?
I've spent all this time thinking I wanted to be a writer.
And I do. But will I? Can I?
I begin to doubt myself.
I entered a story of mine for the Provost Award. My undergrad advisor told me to do it. He thought it would win. I believed him.
A few weeks ago I got a letter from The Office Of The Provost on official OfficeOfTheProvost stationary. It said my story was one of a very strong pool. That they appreciated the time and effort that went into my work. That the five hundred dollar prize had gone to some kid named Alex.
I lingered on the 'strong pool' part. I imagined myself spending months on a story and then, when it was finally finished, throwing it into a pool, the pages fluttering down into the water like the petals of my apple tree.

I trashed the letter.

Then I went out to sushi with a friend. Our waiter looked familiar. As he brought our drinks out I asked him if we ever had classes together. He looked at me closely and thought for minute.

"Yup, metaphysical poetry last term. My name is Alex, what's yours?"

As I laid sliced ginger on my tuna I thought about poking my eyes out with the chop sticks.

The point of my story: I always thought that when I graduated, I would feel like this.

But now, I realize I have a long way to go, that my goals are hard, my dreams big. That I'm just another college grad trying to stand out in a sea of black gowns and trying desperately, desperately to find a job that I will. not. hate.

And this is how that makes me feel:


turleybenson said...

i heart abby.

Kaylynn said...

Great post! Good luck finding a job that you don't hate.

Lloyd said...

Abby: Dont ever give up on your dreams. Let your dreams take you to happiness. Dont ever settle for a job where you live for Friday and hate Monday. If you love your "work" you will never have to "work" a day of your life. Even if it means doing something crazy like driving a plain white car with red and blue lights on the top.

I love you. You are the best writter I have ever read. I cant wait to read your posts.


Liv said...


two years ago i graduated with my english degree. now i'm an accountant and i hate myself for it.

sometimes dreams get pushed aside. sometimes the responsibilities of life take over everything. and it's sad.

but a microscopic part of me holds the tiniest bit of hope that someday i'll be doing something i love.

i'll hope for you too.

Adam and Tara said...

I feel ya. You know how I came to terms with it? I consider myself a pro at writing emails, using excellent grammar when answering phone calls and I'm the go to girl for correct phrasing in my office-- I tell myself that without my degree I wouldn't be able to do any of it. :) Congrats Abby, it's a huge accomplishment!

Jack & Lindsay Chang said...

CONGRATS! What a great accomplishment! I am so happy for you!
Your dad (as always) is right. Don't give up even if people like "Alex" seem to exist only to make you second guess yourself and your talents!

Kristy said...

First off - congrats on making it to graduation!! (well...almost) Good luck being thrown into the jaws of reality. I graduated almost 2 years ago and am still wondering what I want to do with my life. And can you pass on to your wonderful dad that I'm copying what he wrote to you and putting it up on my wall. I heart your dad - and you of course!!

C.J. and Jackie said...

Congrats Abby!!! You are awesome for sticking with it and finishing, I wish I could say the same. Just know you make me smile every time you write something. You are an amazing person, we love you guys tons and miss ya tons too!!!!

Camille and Paul said...

Congratulations! I am so glad I found your real blog, because I have been checking back on one you must have started and then left behind! :) I think you will make an excellent writer, you are one already!

Allie said...

I can't wait to see what you do next. I am excited for your future.

Mellanee said...

Alex Smalex, I bet his mother was on the committee.

Jessica and Reecey said...

I expect to receive a signed copy of your first book. Seriously. You are a fabulous writer, and you should go for it.

Ryan and Amber said...

Congrats!!! That's so exciting to be done. I can't wait until Ryan is done.

Ashley and Zach Smart said...

Okay. I am REALLY upset that I just tried to find Tillamook bubblegum ice cream somewhere, only to learn that it is only sold in Oregon and Washington. I have been dying to try it since you gushed over it in recent posts. Sad.... so sad.

heather said...

Wa, wa, wa. Don't be all woe is me on my trash! You're amazing and you'll do great. That dude Alex is just a hypethetical bump in the road. One to piss you off if you will. So now get pissed and show him and the people who speak of pools like it will apease a broken heart. Show them and write your children's book STAT. My kids are seriously in need of some substance in their reading material. Off to the library. (an effort in futility) love ya lady!

Martha Lee said...

First off I have never seen so many comments on a blog. That is saying something about how true this blog is. For me I have worked my whole life to avoid this feeling with school, after more school, after more school. It has worked for me so far.

Love you Orb.

Abby said...

Love you, too, Mar Mar.

Abby said...

Just wanna say thanks to all the encouragement from everyone. I'm not trying to be all downer and lame here, but it's honestly the truth! Yes, I am glad to be almost done with my undergrad, but it took me until now to realize that I'm not done at all, that my education is only beginning. I thought by now I would be ME, ya know? Like things would be set. But they're not, and I've no idea where to go from here, and that's what scares me.

No one can ever tell what the future will bring, so it will be fun and exciting to find out what happens.

Thanks guys.

The Kilpacks said...

Congratulations on graduating Abby! Way to go!