In my Canadian Literature class, whenever we read poetry out loud, my professor always asks, “what do you do with that?” I always took notice of this and noticed the irony. Here, standing in front of a room of English majors, asking “what do you do with that?’ but it is asked in a context that is not demeaning or negative.
As an English major myself, I can confirm that almost everyone who asks you what your major is, will probably follow up with this question after hearing your answer.
“What are you going to do with that?”
“Don’t you want a job?”
“Why didn’t you pick something a little more useful?”
English majors have a reputation of having one of the most useless degrees and will inevitably face unemployment, being forced into master's degrees and becoming teachers. So when my professor asks this question to a room of English major in an academic context, followed up by discussion of the works of literature we are reading, I can’t help but feel the power of that statement.
English majors put up with a lot of bullshit. I’m always asked if I want to be a teacher or if I am going to write a book. I’ve had to explain to people why I chose my program and justify why it is just as important as engineering or science. I’ve been told I have it easy and cannot complain about school. People from high school said it was because I was too stupid to do something more “academic” or “important.” I have been told to switch my major to journalism or communications but all this backlash is completely worth it when I read a fantastic novel or immerse myself into great poetry and I know I have made the best possible decision for myself.
I am an English major for myself and my future. Not for anyone else.
In university, you are spending thousands of dollars towards your education and your future. You put in as much work and effort as you can and you learn more than your field of study. You learn how to become an adult, a professional, and an academic. If you invest all this time, money, and effort, why waste it away on something you can’t tolerate to care about.
I remember sitting in my grade 11 biology class hating everything. I did not care about plants and genetics. In grade 12, I dropped my advanced functions class on the second day because I understood nothing and math was not ever required in grade 12, but at the time of registration, I felt that I had to take it. I am an English major because my love of reading and writing surpasses what is “important” or “useful.” Someone who is good at math and science could go into an engineering program without question. But how come when someone who is good at writing essays and is able to comprehend texts easily are questioned for continuing.
We are to study what we love and fulfill our passions to create the best possible future for ourselves. University is the time where we discover what we love in terms of study and what we want to do with our lives. I still have no idea what I want to do after I graduate, and that is okay. There are endless opportunities for English majors and we can do it. The endless papers and readings we complete build our skills and make us the best we can possibly be.
English majors are incredible and the crap we put up with doesn’t matter at the end of the day when we are studying what we love and shouldn’t have to justify it. To all the English majors out there, keep killing it!
September 10, 2018
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