Ever since I started college, I noticed a trend in the responses I would get when I shared that I am an English major. Here are the worst ones.
Are you going to be a teacher?
No. I'm not going to be a teacher. There are a million other things to do with an English degree than to help other people get an English degree. I can be a copywriter, a technical writer, a journalist, a blogger, a content strategist, a news reporter, an analyst, a lobbyist, a brand strategist, an editor, a proposal writer, an event planner, or a writer for television and radio. I could work in public relations, marketing, radio, sales, or social media. I could even work for the government - yes, they need communications officers. How do you think the public get press releases and government officials write speeches?
But you already speak English!
I know, believe me. How do you think I got this far? Believe it or not, there's more to English than just stringing words together. There's critical rhetoric, literary analysis, history, grammar, and literary criticism. Moreover, there's creative writing. That's your favorite sci-fi novels, your favorite book of poems, your favorite film's entire transcript. We learn the practices, techniques, and business of writing something that will sell, and more importantly something that will resonate with a reader. We learn how to write proposals, strategies, reports, and communication deliverables. We learn how to apply the principles of audience, context, purpose, and writing strategies to a piece. It's not memorizing parts of speech and remembering which letters are vowels.
Do you read Shakespeare?
Yes. So much Shakespeare. If I hear his name one more time, I'm dropping out.
Are you going to graduate school?
Refer to my first answer...there are a million and one things to do with an English degree. Going back to school is very far down on my list.
How are you going to make money?
Oh, boy...the question that keeps me up at night. I could go on a long, drawn out rant about how valuable arts and humanities degrees and professionals are. Unfortunately, that spiel tends to fall on deaf ears. To make a long story short: my dream job pays, on average, $53,500 a year. I am going to have to marry rich...to someone whose degree cost just as much as mine. Sigh.
What's your favorite classic novel?
Ask anyone from any other major this question - my answer will be the same as theirs. I don't have one. Classic literature is boring. Authors got paid by the word. That's the only reason novels were so long! I don't want to read them any more than you do! Reading Old English and medieval literature is like an English major's version of learning coding. It sucks.
Aren't you supposed to be an English major?
Every. Time. I stutter or fumble over my words...this is the first question that gets asked. My roommate has started calling me a "gibberish major" because of how often I can't speak correctly. Look, I could insult you in Old English and you wouldn't understand a word. Don't test me.
Are you a hipster?
Alright. I get it. Poetry snobs and "I'd rather stay in bed and read" folks seem to give the rest of us a bad rap. Trust me, I don't think in rhymes and consider myself smarter than you.
I thought you were an English major!
Look, I am trying my best. But when you use big words, don't assume I have the Oxford Dictionary at-ready inside my brain. I still use a thesaurus when writing papers for my 4000-level English classes in order to prevent sounding like a third grader.
Can you write my paper for me?
No. A million times no. I write 20 essays a semester. And by essays I mean 5-10 pages at the very least. Please do not assume that I want to write your two-page history paper for you. I promise I don't.
Who even gets an English degree?
Oh, I don't know...try John Mulaney, Emma Watson, James Franco, Sting (The Police), Mitt Romney, Conan O'Brien, Barbara Walters, Steven Spielberg, Michael Eisner (a former Disney CEO), Matt Damon, Paul Simon, Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Jon Hamm, Joan Rivers, Stephen King, and Christopher Nolan, to name a few.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. If I wanted to rant about all the things I hate hearing about my major, I'd have an article longer than the 40 page portfolio that I have to write for my literacy class this semester (yeah, 40).