There comes a time in every person’s life where one thinks, “I’m a nobody. I will amount to nothing.” Generally this thought comes around in the early preteen years; hence teenage angst, rebellion, and pseudo-depression. The downer is quickly followed by the “unstoppable” feeling of the mid-to-late teens, where we all had the notion that we were indestructible and could do just about any damn thing we wanted. We got jobs, spent money faster than we earned it, went drinking, smoking, dating, drove too fast, applied to college, went to college. Hopefully stayed in college.
But as soon as we hit college, the happy-go-lucky feeling is quick to disappear. In approximately one year, we are swallowed by a mysterious suffocation. It’s called the Sophomore Slump. It’s that time of college life where we realize that this shit is hard. The joy of freshman year is over and life is really starting to begin. Loans are looming over head and professors aren’t giving the freshman handicap. So how do we cope? We stop going to class, we are late on papers, we drink more than we did before. We sleep more than ever. We are cranky and stubborn and seriously considering dropping out of school. It’s a bad time.
For some, the Sophomore Slump turns into the Junior Jumble. I made up the jumble bit.
But I didn’t make up the feeling. I’m not sure if every junior experiences this new form of suffocation, but I know that I did- no, I am suffering.
I thought that if I could make it through sophomore year I’d be set. I’d be on the golden path to graduation with a light heart and a plan. Well. That didn’t work out. I made it through sophomore year by the skin of my freaking teeth, and now I sit halfway through my junior year completely and entirely burnt out. At this point, I could really care less about making it across that stage. I’m too preoccupied with money and living arrangements to really care about that 12 page paper and oral presentation I have due in two weeks (when in reality I’m too scared to face them so they sit menacingly sharpening their teeth in the back of my mind).
I find solace in the fact that I love what I’m majoring in. I know I’m good at what I do. The problem is, what I do no one wants done. An English degree is fairly universal. There are a lot of opportunities for those of us who can read and write. But no one gives a rat’s ass about a creative writer. We don’t just walk into a publishing house with a resume and say, “Hey, I’m a writer. Can I have a job?” No, it doesn’t work like that. A creative writer needs to have a fatty portfolio filled with really good samples; then if the stars are aligned, they’ll be offered a manager. Who might be able to get a manuscript in front of an editor. Who might be able to get it in front of a publisher. Who might be willing to publish it. Maybe.
But again, I just breathe and remember that I’m good at what I do. I’m a smart girl, and I know that my dreams aren’t going to come true unless I’m lucky and work really damn hard. I know that I’ll be small-time working at magazines or e-zines or shitty part-time jobs until I get something published. And that first something will probably be an opinion column. Or a piece of poetry. Maybe a personal essay in a small collection. Baby steps, my dear. I thought I was going to be ok.
And then junior year comes and slaps me in the face. Again. This time, the slap comes in the form of a brunette rock star freshman who I just happen to love. She was my rush crush. Another small-town genius with a knack for writing who joined my sorority and is quickly following in my class schedule footsteps. She is my very own little protege. My feelings are all warm and fuzzy for her.
But recently, as in today, I realized something about our friend-lationship. Something that actually made me cry a little and feel a wee bit sick. Curious?
She’s a better writer than I am. She’s infinitely better. At the tender young age of… freshman… she writes like a professional. Our creative writing professor will absolutely eat her up. I admire this rock star’s talent, I really do. But it makes me so… depressed? The stage of emotion I’m at right now is hard to describe without sounding like a whiner or a bitch. But let me try.
I’ve always been The Writer. Throughout high school and even so far in college, I’m known as The Writer. My friends and sisters associate me with words and books. I’ve taken almost every creative writing course offered and have shined. The creative writing professor always praises me and feeds me compliments until I am fat. And how I do love it! I love being the standalone. I love being different from others. I love being good at this which so many people are awful. I like being known for being creative and witty and sharp. I like being that girl. I’ve grown accustomed to being that girl.
But now what do I do? There’s a young hip and slim rock-star writer in our midst. I feel like a middle schooler compared to her. There’s a t-shirt that I love that says, “Shakespeare hates your emo poetry.” In this situation, I’m the emo poet and she is Shakespeare. I’ve never felt this way about a peer before. I’m threatened by her. I’m in awe of her. I hate her and love her.
I’ve never been second best of pen. I don’t quite know how to handle this. I don’t know how to prepare myself to be left in the creative dust. Perhaps if I leave my mouth open as she shoots past me, some of her talent will find its way into my brain and out my fingers.
One can only hope.
And hope I shall.
Fingers crossed, eh?
She says she’s bad at some types of writing. I find that hard to believe. This Chasing Neptune, she is limitless. I wish only the best for her. I just also wish that I get there before she does.
Because I’m back at thirteen, standing in front of a mirror, saying to myself, “I’m a nobody. I will amount to nothing.”