To my dear English major friends: do your ears ache every time you hear the dreaded teacher question? Has a friend asked if you ‘even’ have a career plan post college? These overly asked questions and kind statements that always seem to lead to long awkward silences are so over done. The best treatment for anything annoying the art of a little rant.
So, my fellow English majors, enjoy my compilation of eye-roll-worthy statements overheard by us all.
1. “So you want to be a teacher then?”
I would like to start by asking: do you think the only subject taught in school is English? What happened to science, math and all those other subjects? For some reason English seems to be the go-to major to ask this for. The path to being a teacher isn’t directly paved from a degree in English so don’t put the two together. Please note though that being a teacher is bada** and something all future teachers should take pride in, even the chemistry major planning to become one.
2. “You’re so lucky you get to read books all the time. I never have the time to read.”
Yes, I feel so very lucky; Dante’s Inferno is such a light read that I love assignments that encourage me to write a ten-page paper analyzing literary techniques in this page–turner. People, although reading is a joy and a brilliant framework to feed class discussions in a creative atmosphere, there’s nothing leisurely about these reading assignments. Trust me, I have receipts; look at any English majors books I can guarantee you’ll find them covered in sticky notes with highlighted and double underlined sentences along with pages of annotations that look like an equation out of calculus class. So yes, I suppose you’re right, it is pretty great that I can spend time reading quality literature and thoroughly discussing written works that move readers.
3. “Can you edit my paper?”
Maybe if you hadn’t asked me the night before the deadline. Then again, you also reminded me of my “light” schedule filled with just reading books all day. Okay, fine I’ll edit your paper only because I can see the grammar mistakes from a mile away and they really do bother me.
4. “Are you going to law school?”
First: not all English majors want to go to graduate school. Second: although I would love to have an argument over this—an argument I would probably win—this may prove your point that I would be great in law school.
5. “You must love reading!”
Honestly, not always. Just because I finished three books this week and take part in a book club for fun doesn’t mean I’m tethered to a book at all times. Maybe I’m carrying one… or two… maybe three books in my bag right now, but that shouldn’t count; I can stop any time I want. Okay, so yes, I do love reading but in a cool way.
6. “You’re so brave majoring in something that doesn’t give you a secure job.”
To all of the soccer moms inquiring about your life decisions at the latest neighborhood barbeque, I proclaim this response: As an English major, I have plenty of secure job paths available in my future. When I leave my glorious institution of higher learning I’ll have toned my intricate network of communication skills through my literary practices. And may I end this conversation by saying: no one asked you, Carol.
7. “You must have a lot of free time on your hands.”
Sure, if you think spending the night writing page after page until the hand cramps takes only a few minutes out of our days. Maybe you find that early mornings finishing that five hundred page reading assignment and then making sure to not to forget to write that ten-page paper on said reading make for a slow day. Of course, I also have to keep up with pop culture, current literature and my own personal writing project outside class that isn’t officially assigned but is expected to be in the works.
8. “You’re not one of those hipsters are you?”
What made you think I was a hipster? Is it the old book, large glasses, coffee and boots that gave it away? That stereotypical, Engligh major look isn’t actually a thing. Fine I’ll be honest, I enjoy a cup of coffee in a cute mug and find comfort in the hug of a book but trust me, I’m not a hipster, this is just a metaphor.
9. “What are you going to do with your degree?”
Oh you know, the usual, become a famous author, get a movie deal and thrive on my earnings… Aka: I’m going to work— in one way or another— like everybody else.
10. “Why are you studying English like what’s the point?”
I like to blame my angsty-teenage-self that needed an expressive outlet. It could also be the joy and importance of English that has encouraged me to spend late nights and early mornings studying it. I’m proud to say I’ve spent a decent amount of time ruminating over a single sentence because it resonates on a level I often find hard to explain. Time spent studying literature has expanded my horizon on many aspects of life; it has also created an outlet that encourages self-reflection, growth and a sense of purpose. I’m studying English because it matters to me and to others. I’m studying English because literature creates displacement, and the feeling of rootedness all while encompassing fantastical images and stories that manage to be relatable. I’m studying English because it is important.