Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reversing the Effects of Adventureland Syndrome

Two months ago, I received my diploma from Fresno State University, a big ol' B.A. in English. That night I went back to my job in the food service industry, hardly phased by my accomplishment. It got to the point where people would congratulate me and I'd respond with a "huh?"

It wasn't that I wasn't proud of myself. I was. Some crazy statistic was thrown out at my ceremony that less than 1% of the world has a college degree. But I still wasn't focused on my accomplishment, I was focused on the "What now?" factor--the huge step one takes from graduating and getting a "real job", or making the decision to attend grad school. I was also fearing loathing dreading panicking about the wait that comes with it--the length of the transition into adulthood.

Sometimes it's easier than other times to take a step back, look at everything I've done, and realize that in ten years I'm going to appreciate when I've been knee-deep in Adventureland syndrome, the confusing point in time consumed by being broke, wondering if life will be spent making ten bucks an hour serving others, and facing disappointment when realizing that graduating college isn't all it's cracked up to be.

And why will I appreciate this?

Because Achievement is just a word for the product of impatience, anger, fear, dread, and a shit ton of hard work.

And then, when I realize this, I realize that I'm dealing with Adventureland syndrome in more ways than one.

Can you guess?

Come on, just try.

So maybe I can appreciate the drafts and drafts and crying and impatience and rejection letters and rejection letters and rejection letters and hard criticism and the waiting and the twitter feed that tells you how EFFING WONDERFUL the publishing industry is ONCE you're cool enough to take a blood oath into it. Because who knows? Maybe I'll find a hot Kristen Stewart-esque girlfriend on the way.

Or just a bunch of kickass writing buddies and knowledge about the pub industry I wouldn't have been searching for if I just went out there and pulled a Stephenie Meyer.

And knowing the cake tastes better the longer you slave in the kitchen.

Is that enough to toughen up and stick with it? To dwell in the pain while it lasts?

You tell me.


SM Schmidt said...

Yes. Any future success will only be richer because of the pain today. Framing happiness against past happiness, or past pain, and the one compared to the pain will feel better.

Maybe the BA will be more real when you hold the diploma in your hands for a few hours & not just the fancy case they give at graduation?

Indigo said...

I say yes - If for nothing else but the sense of accomplishment and dedication it takes.

I've seen so many more give up at the hint of hard work and display a lack of courage in themselves. Seems to me if something is that easy to give up, perhaps it truly wasn't meant to be.

I think the struggle and pain ensued, are the very things that test our stamina, our drive to succeed against all odds.

Me? I wouldn't have it any other way. Perhaps that's why I'm still writing, still forging ahead. I can't imagine any other way to go. (Hugs)Indigo

Shooting Stars Mag said...

wonderful post. I've been slaving away myself...and I do think the harder you try, the more you enjoy it and can get something out of it. I'd much rather that then being a stephenie meyer...though who can say that would all-together SUCK? haha

best of luck.

Amy Lukavics said...

From the writing perspective, I feel like every single part of the journey, no matter was part you're currently in- trying to finish your first book, trying to revise it and revise it, trying to query, trying to revise and prepare for submission and so forth, the doubt and pain always remains, and the possibility and fear of rejection never go away. We all feel it and that is something huge that brings us all together. That 'blood oath' type of change fantasy is just that- a fantasy. We're all unsure as fuck, man.

This was an awesome, honest post. And congrats on your diploma!!

Tara McClendon said...

Being in the trenches is never fun, but you can meet some cool people along the way. Congrats on the diploma. If nothing else, it will at least take up space on wall.

Kathleen said...

Okay, 5 million coolness points for the use of Adventureland.

Jamie B said...

Struggle, struggle, toil and

Yeah, stress, worry, fear, rejection, it's just the gift that keeps on givin' Clark!

Good times, this writing biz! :)

I hold on to the hope that it's all going to be worth it someday when I look back and laugh.

Roh Morgon said...

Congrats on finishing - it takes more than a lot of folks realize to graduate from college.

Writing? Do you like it? Do you LOVE it? Then do it, naysayers and the publishing world be damned.

J.S. Wood said...

Great post, Sarah! It's a hard business, not for the weak. With each step we improve on our journey. Congrats on the degree, that's an awesome accomplishment!