‘Why Do I Want to Amount to Something So Much?’

There’s no practical backup for when you fail to perform as the person you’re supposed to be.

Hi there,

I held the first Writing Space of the year yesterday and I have to say it felt so good to see several of you—some of you repeat participants!—and write together again. I have been thinking a lot about what community can look like in the COVID world, really. Travel is hard; in-person events seem dangerous. Sometimes there are three of you; other days there have been ten or more. Each time, it does not fail to feel intimate and friendly. I am grateful to those of you who showed up for your writing, each other, and even the writing of this letter! You helped my solitary practice.

More Writing Spaces and Hotpots will be announced in the coming weeks. Come out, too, to my class on lyric essay or a launch conversation for my friend Paul Tran’s debut book with Greenlight Bookstore next month, both online.

Now, on with the work.

Dear Yanyi,

As a senior in college, I am becoming increasingly anxious about life after graduation. All of the uncertainty! Even though we’ve been through so much uncertainty already, I still can’t manage it well. I am an English and Creative Writing (Poetry) major. I’m also a Virgo, so I’ve planned post-grad as much as I can. I’ve applied to the Fulbright Scholarship for an English Teaching Assistantship, but after a while, I decided that I should have back-up plans just in case I don’t get the Fulbright Scholarship. Maybe I’m a pessimist? Anyway, I’ve lined up nine grad schools’ MFA programs, and then my plan C is another program that allows me to teach English abroad. With all of these plans, the only thing I can do is wait. But I’ve been alternating between optimism and pessimism extremely frequently. My mood has also been swinging around a lot too. One day, I feel like I’m on top of the world, like I can do anything, and I believe that I’ll get into BOTH the Fulbright and grad school. The next day, I feel like shit, like I can’t do anything, like none of my poems are “good enough” to be submitted, and I’ll amount to nothing. Why is it that I want to amount to something so much? Anyways, please advise me gently...

Karen Z.