I graduated from the UAlbany in May 2018 with a Bachelor's in English. I studied English as a major and my minor was Journalism. After years of studying, sleepless nights, and expensive loans, I have to ask myself if it was worth it?
When I first told everyone what I was going to school for, they always asked the same thing.
"Oh, so you want to be a teacher?"
I heard that a lot and I would give the same answer every time.
"I don't really know what I want to do. So I decided to go with English."
That wasn't the whole truth. It's not that I didn't have any idea, I had too many ideas. One week I would want to work on becoming an author and finish one of the drafts I had written for a book idea. The week after, I would think about getting a job in publishing. To be honest, teaching never really crossed my mind. I thought being an English major would free up some mental space in my head. I was hoping it would be a stress, less major. I was wrong.
I remember the looks of disappointment and anger my friends would give me when I told them I had to pull an all-nighter working on a paper, or reading the next few chapters, or proofreading an article for an assignment. I had friends who were Business majors and others who were Political Science majors. They would get offended when I complained about the work I had to do. They figured I had it easy and I shouldn't have complained. They didn't know the pain of trying to find that exact quote on that exact page that proves whatever argument you were making in your paper. They didn't know the struggle of trying to find the purpose of that one word in the poem that showed the underlying meaning of it.
It was exhausting, to be honest. It felt like my creative energy was being drained. The vast river of creativity that I had in my head was being pushed into one constricting tunnel. I didn't have any time or energy to write the stories I wanted to write.
Looking back, however, I did learn a lot. I learned how to analyze every paragraph, stanza, and even line in a piece of literature. I learned grammar, APA writing style, and the most important lesson I learned was the importance of proofreading. I know that sounds insane but up until college, I hated reading my own work. All these skills are very useful out of college but the original problem that I had still remains.
It's not that I have no options with an English degree, I have so many options to choose from. It's been one year since I graduated and I still have no clear idea about what I want to do.
It might sound condescending, but it's a terrifying experience having so many options to choose from. Instead of just a fork in the road, there are dozens of turns and side roads to take. Imagine facing all this with no road map and no compass. You could end up going down a road and find yourself miserable at the end of it. Then you realize you wasted all that time walking that path.
That's my biggest fear.