There seems to be a reoccurring theme every time the "so what are you studying?" conversation comes around. It's almost like everyone who I talk to about my English major has a checklist in their head, that I imagine goes like this:
Step one: Patronize her and nod your head with a fake smile.
Tell her, "that's great" in a high-pitched, babying voice, almost like you're talking to a dog.
Step two: Give her the benefit of the doubt.
Ask her what she plans to do with her degree. Ask, "Do you want to go into law?" because clearly, that is the only honorable profession that can come from a degree in English.
"No, I want to be a high school English teacher."
Step three: RED ALERT! What do I say???
No worries, don't panic. Just tell her that we need good teachers, but make sure it is half-heartily so she knows that deep down you disapprove. Make a joke about how those who can't do teach to show her that you can be funny while also reaffirming my disapproval.
Step four: Talk about what you want to study and make subtle hints that you will be more successful than her.
Don't forget to remind her that your workload surpasses hers to establish that your major is harder.
Step five: Walk away.
If you meet another English major who wants to teach, repeat.
Now I realize this probably isn't what goes through people's heads during this conversation, but it sure as hell feels that way. English majors already have a bad rep. I'm sure you've heard the joke about the difference between a pizza and an English major.
No? Spoiler alert: the difference is that a pizza can feed a family of four.
This anti-English-major stigma is one that I personally don't understand, and if being in a major that for some reason is constantly the butt of jokes isn't enough, imagine going into a profession that is also deemed unimportant.
Usually, I am not one to complain about being teased and roasted, but when it comes to my major and wanting to be a teacher, I get mad.
Stop belittling my major! Stop patronizing my hopeful profession!
English is important. Teachers are important. Imagine a world in which no one knew how to write. That'd be a mess. Imagine a world without good teachers. Tragic. Sure, teachers don't make as much as some other professions, but this is what I am passionate about. Teaching others and hopefully passing on a passion that I have to my future students, that's important to me.
I have been blessed enough to have some fantastic teachers who made me excited to learn, and I want to pass that excitement onto others. Is that a crime? Do I need to prove myself to you before you decide that's acceptable? I hope not. You should just be a decent human and respect all majors and professions.
To sum this up: yes, I am an English major, and yes, I want to take a more traditional route and become a teacher. But no, that doesn't make me any lesser than you, and no, I am not becoming a teacher because I "can't do". So, do me and all the other English majors and aspiring teachers a favor: stop patronizing us, stop comparing our major to yours. We are working just as hard as you to do something just as respectable.