My Personal Legend

Melissa Juliet Sagendorph: My Personal Legend

“Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.”

-Basil King

Like most people my age, I’ve spent the past ten years coping with the peculiar young person’s disease that causes me to spend every day thinking about how unbearably old I am and how little I’ve accomplished despite an entire decade of adult life on planet Earth. This year, however, I’m turning 27 – and for some reason, everything feels different.

Now that I’m officially in my late-twenties, the pressure to start carving out some kind of solid identity no longer feels abstract.  All around me, people are self-actualizing: my friends are getting married and having babies, kids I went to highschool with are graduating with Master’s degrees, and every day I see “debut novels” in Barnes and Noble written by people younger than me.

For that reason, the Personal Legend dilemma is hitting me especially hard. I’ve known ever since my second grade teacher read my 1-paragraph-long elephant story out loud to the class that I wanted to be a writer, yet for some reason the older I get the more I treat writing like a hobby, some far away dream in the background of my real life.

Two years ago, I started graduate school with the wrong ambitions. Instead of pursuing my writing, I got caught up in a second passion and jumped into a Philosophy program, thinking I was going to earn a PhD and spend the rest of my life as an academic. But as time went on, the demands of my schedule overtook my favorite parts of myself. My personal writing all but fell to the wayside, and the middle school girl who wrote volumes of X-files fanfiction and promised to be the youngest ever Pulitzer Prize winner disappeared.

I thought it would be hard to leave grad school, but once I realized it was the right decision it was simple. When I think about how I want to live my life and who I want to become, two pieces of very cliche advice have stuck with me through the years. The first is a quote from Basil King: “Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” The second is an anonymous quote: “Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” I don’t know if I’ll ever actually become a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, but I’d rather follow that road as far I can than make it to end of the wrong path.

Melissa Juliet Sagendorph is an intern at Literary Traveler. She graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Arts from Salem State University in 2013, where she double majored in English & Creative Writing and Philosophy & Applied Ethics. She worked as an Editor and Content Writer for Amino Apps before leaving to pursue a graduate degree in Philadelphia. She is slowly but surely working on her first novel. In addition to reading and writing, Melissa likes hiking, kayaking, and spending time with her niece. She loves dogs.