"You're an English Major? That's stupid."
"So you're going to be an English teacher, then?"
"Do you know no one is really hiring majors in the arts these days? Have you considered majoring in Nursing?"
I have been writing stories since before I knew how to write. One of the many family movies my parents recorded throughout the years proves this, displaying a scene in which I am wearing striped rainbow pants and standing a mere three feet tall.
“I want you to write something down for me,” A chubby-cheeked, pigtailed version of me says to my mom, presenting her with a small notebook half scribbled in with crayons and a Crayola marker.
My mother prompts me, and I launch into a story about a young girl traveling through a forest with her two parents.
“You have to write some words down on a new page after a certain point,” I say to my mom after a while. “Like in the books that I read,” I added, analyzing how my mom was writing a full paragraph on her paper and not spacing out the sentences as I’d seen in my picture books.
“Okay,” My mom agrees, stifling a laugh at my seriousness and flipping to a fresh page, “What happens next?”
“A purple dinosaur comes along and eats the girl’s parents. He wants to eat her too, but he is full, so he lets her live. The girl cries and cries but soon another couple discover her, and they’re her new parents.”
At this point in the video, even my father is chuckling loudly behind the camera.
“Why does the dinosaur eat her real parents?” My mother asks me when she stops laughing.
I extend my small, paint-stained hands out in frustration.
“Because he’s hungry.” I say, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “And the girl doesn’t care because she has new parents. They adapt her.” I say, putting a heavy emphasis on a word I’d learned recently because one of my best friends at the time had parents that weren’t biologically hers.
“Krystal,” My mother says, once again suppressing laughter, “It’s ‘adopt.’”
At this point in the video, both of my parents burst into loud, uncontrollable laughter at my confidently executed one-letter mistake. Angered at their teasing, I rip the notebook out of my mother’s hands and ball my hands into fists.
“You know, if you’re not going to appreciate” I began, emphasizing the only four-syllable word in my vocabulary, “the story I’m trying to tell here, I’m just going to take it to someone that does appreciate it!” I shout, stomping out of the room and out of the camera’s shot.
I was four years old.
Since that precious time in my life where I was writing my work in marker and confusing my vowels, I have obviously matured. My entire childhood was dominated by my love for writing and, in some ways, fabricating.
In the third grade, my class was told to write a “How To,” book on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After listening to some of my peers and noting the undeniable similarities in their accounts, I insisted that I made peanut butter and jelly by blending the peanut butter and jelly together in a blender before spreading it across a bakery roll, instead of bread.
“I know this isn’t how you make a sandwich, Krystal,” My teacher, Mrs. Muha, had said after pulling me aside one afternoon.
“It’s not,” I admitted, “but everyone else was writing about it the same. I didn’t want my book to be the same as everyone else’s.”
In high school, I took a Creative Writing class that transformed my life. Finally I had a place to hear feedback, get inspired, and have my work be edited. I wrote endlessly throughout Junior and Senior year and found a voice that I had started to lose in middle school.
As far as pursuing writing as a career, as with nearly every passion, I had faced two significant drawbacks in aspiring to be a professional. One, I’d realized that the thing I loved the most, locking myself in my room and creating people and worlds that didn’t exist, wasn’t deemed “cool” by the friends I had acquired growing up. “Cool” was watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, sneaking out on Friday nights to walk to my town’s designated hangout spot, Martin’s Lake, and playing field hockey or basketball. As frivolous as it seems in hindsight, “cool” was an essential thing for me to be at thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old.
The second thing that prevented me from writing for a while was realizing that there are thousands of writers out there that are better than me. There are thousands of quotes already published that say things I have thought to say before, in a better, neater, more eloquent way. As a perfectionist, realizing that I would never be regarded as the absolute best at what I do was an intimidating concept for me to initially overcome.
My obsession with words drew me back to writing after all, and the Creative Writing class I took in high school immensely magnified my love for writing even more than I thought possible. For college, I have decided to major in English (and Criminal Justice, but that's a story for another day) because the thought of waking up every day for four years to pursue reading and writing absolutely thrills me.
Despite taking English-based courses, I still sit in class and struggle to focus when an idea for a story pops into my head. I nonchalantly scribble a line or a name or a phrase down onto a piece of scrap paper, and I’ll write pages on it later. It is my dream that one day I will write novels, and produce something of substance for the world to read after years of writing only for myself or for my teachers.
I'm an English major because my love for writing and reading eclipses other people's idea of what a reasonable, respectable major is.