Looming graduation

Rick Lowe

One of the things that has been germinating in my mind for… a while, now… is this concept of graduation, done with educational institutions entirely (no grad school for this guy. Come April? I’m OUT). Having debt to pay off, a non-existent income, going back home after two years, “adult life” being officially started. I mean, I’ve considered myself an adult since moving out, even if I sometimes (frequently) don’t feel like one.

It’s a really crushing concept. All my life I’ve had people telling me what to do, giving me advice whether I asked for it or not, making assumptions about my future. Suddenly that’s all going to be reduced to unusually low levels, because I’ll have a BA in Writing and it’ll be time to pick up J.K. Rowling’s mantle. Yeah, I’m nothing if not blindly ambitious.

I think about this all the time. I angst about it, I suppose. Am I going to get published? How much money am I going to make? What if I never get published and end up homeless? What if I fail, after talking everyone’s ears off with delusions of “best sellers” and “New York Times”? And most importantly, how far into the future should I even bother thinking about? I think I’m causing myself some unnecessary anxiety, all this ten or twenty year talk. Here I am worrying about homework that’s due next week and paying for a house I don’t even know exists yet.

How do I cope with this stuff, you may be wondering? The same way I cope with everything else: video games. That’s my drug right there. And music. Everyone’s got their vices; mine just happen to be electronically based. Even writing itself is a form of release—writing this column, for instance, helps me put these nagging thoughts into a tangible format and look at them closely, so I can see how unneeded they are.

I remember a time when I had no idea what I “wanted to be when I grew up.” Throughout the years, I’ve had some automatic answers to that question, so people would quit asking me: fireman, paleontologist, video game designer, graphic artist, and finally I realized that after years of writing goofy little stories and reading awesome big ones, I’d developed a natural affinity for putting words to thoughts. See, when I put it that way, these other worries don’t seem so bad. They’re like paranoia.

The worst nag though? There’s a doubting side of me that likes to say “you didn’t have to go to college to be a writer. You were already a writer. You wasted your time, money and life coming here. You’re never going to get any of it back.” Maybe that particularly ugly series of thoughts will vanish once I pay off my loans, or start raking in royalties, whichever comes first. Until then I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t distract me too much, because it’s one hell of a mojo-draining leech.

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