As an English major, I've encountered a lot of doubt and weird interactions when I tell people what my major is. Many of these are interactions that every single English major I've met also experienced.
1. Pulling an essay out of thin air.
I had probably the toughest English teacher in my academic career my senior year of high school. I was taking a dual credit course with the local community college and she would come to our campus two days a week. She was an English composition professor and if it were not for her I would not be able to write the way I do today. There have been many essay assignments where I get the assignment, write the essay in about two hours and then I turn it in and receive an A.
2. We love to read but not really when it's assigned to us.
I've pretty much always loved reading but whenever a reading is assigned to me, I usually procrastinate it. There's something about assigned readings and being told what to do that just doesn't sit right with me. I, of course, overcome that and do my readings anyway like the good student I try to be.
3. In more difficult courses, Spark Notes become your best friend.
I always do my assigned readings, but there have been quite a few times when I have had to turn to Spark Notes or Shmoop to help me understand what I just read better. Usually, when I'm reading I will either think of or write down questions that I need to look up and answer later so I can better understand the material.
4. Just because I am an English major does not mean I will write essays for you.
Multiple people, joking and dead serious, have asked me to write an essay for them. They've even offered to pay, but sorry I will never write an essay for you. I will gladly do edits if you wish! I would never do anything to risk my academic career or another person's.
5. Always being asked at family functions ‘so what are your plans?’
This is a big one. My family gets together for just about any holiday possible, and every time, someone has to ask what my plans after college are. I have changed my mind many times but finally figured out what I for sure want to do. Sometimes, people try to discourage me from majoring in English because they believe that there are limited jobs with an English degree, but truthfully, there's a lot more than just teaching that I can do.
6. We've become very talented at annotating.
I remember my freshman year of high school, my English teacher asked the class to annotate as we read and I had no clue what to do. As I continued to do it and my teachers continued to give me feedback, I started to learn how to annotate properly and effectively.
7. People always ask for advice on their work.
Essays are hard and I totally understand asking for an English major's advice on your papers before you turn them in. I don't mind this at all to be honest, I am happy to help my friends out when I can! But if I tell you no from time to time, it's not you, it's just because I know I don't have the time to properly go through your work and help you.
8. You're expected to become a teacher.
Originally, I was planning on becoming a high school English and theatre arts teacher, but have now decided to go to grad school and work as a college professor. I just realized that I did not want to teach for students to take a standardized test. I want to teach them how to survive in the world and about all of the amazing and beautiful literature out there. There was no way I could do that within a high school classroom.