Oh man, this all just my daily life while being this major. I never thought there would come a time that I would actually need to compose my thoughts and feelings on these matters because there are many like this circulating around the internet. But the funny thing is, even though we English majors go through the same struggles we still can relate to each others exasperation regardless of how many times we read it.
“All you do is read books.”
Yes, Margaret, that’s exactly what I do all day long. I have all of this magical time in the world to sit down, prop up my feet, and crack open whatever novel I feel like diving into. WRONG. Between two jobs; school; working out; homework; family time; sleeping; and maintaining some sort of social life, I hardly ever find time to do such a thing. Admittedly my homework mostly comprises of reading a novel or 15, I don’t necessarily have time to fully enjoy the text as some sort of entertainment. While I’m reading any sort of written material for class, I am analyzing every word, phrase and sentence, and thinking of why it is pertinent to the class. And while I am doing this, I am taking notes; underlining important parts; and probably composing a paper and/or presentation for said class. Through the semester there is ever hardly any time for me to be able to immerse myself in a novel for pleasure but you can count on me reading ferociously during semester breaks.
Working a Minimum Wage Job
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There is the constant self-prep-talk while working in retail or the food industry. Always having to remind yourself that you need this job so that you can pay your bills while attending school and to be able to afford those textbooks or novels that you may only read a sentence out of the entire semester. Although this is relatable for all majors, the real struggle for us English Lit majors is hearing, “I don’t need no [insert item here],” or any form of improper grammar. Oh yes, I know what you mean by context but in my mind, I seriously have to work through it to truly understand what you’re saying. Why? Because, my friend, your double negation just told me you actually do need that item even though you thought you just told me that you don’t need it. See my frustration and confusion?
Watching Movies & TV
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Remember how I said that while I’m reading I’m always analyzing? Yeah, that goes straight in trying to watch any TV show or movie. It doesn’t matter what it is, I always end up looking into every little meaning of the scene because I’m wondering why it is pertinent to the entire story. I’ll end up picking up on the subtlest things too throughout the scenes, like things most people wouldn’t even notice. Such as if the green bag that someone was holding with that outfit is not the same bag they are holding two shots later in the scene, or the Easter eggs sitting in the background. And if I know extreme background information of said item, character, or story line, I have a hard time not expressing why it is important or interesting to the show or movie. This can become quite frustrating to sit and watch things with me because not everyone likes these tendencies. I do apologize, it’s a part of me and it isn’t like I am doing it on purpose. It literally just happens.
“Don’t all of you English majors drink coffee?”
You got me there, bro-ski. I literally drink so much coffee that I’m pretty sure if you cut me open, I’ll bleed that beautiful roasted liquid. On most days, I feel like I would die without a single cup of coffee. But there are times that I find myself enjoying a cup of hot tea more -I mean as long as it has caffeine in it, I’ll be good. And not all English majors like either one; I know someone who would prefer to drink milk over anything else.
“You must hate math and science, then.”
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Says the person who doesn’t like English and has a hard time not using double negations. Contrary to popular belief, there are many English majors who are phenomenal in Mathematics and will even minor in such field. There are even some who are in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field who minor in English. I, myself, started off as an engineering student who minored in literature before I became a full time English Lit major. Science is super fascinating and it has a lot to teach us, and with the ability to analyze a lot of text it can become way more interesting to learn about. Plus, those with a dual degree with STEM and English, they can get ahead in the world because of their mass skill in analytical reading and writing.
“Oh, you must be a liberal/hippie/hipster.”
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Wow, what an astute yet ridiculous observation, Karen. I didn’t realize that my major automatically made me any of those things. *rolls eyes* Nah, it’s cool if you think that I am any of these things because of the way I think, speak, dress, or act. I’m actually right down the middle of the liberal and conservative way of life because it’s a nice balance, and of course I lean a little more on one side on certain topics than the other. That’s human nature, honestly, because being solely just one way causes for there to be ignorance and closed minded thinking. What my degree has done for me is to teach me how to think openly on all sides, learn from everyone and everything, as well as stay rooted in views that I grew up always wanting to believe in. And the way I dress…dude, I’m just trying to express myself and be comfortable. If that happens to be a beanie, an oversized sweater, ripped jeans, and combat boots while I wear my prescription glasses, then so be it. Because the next day, I might literally be in sweatpants and sweatshirt or even a maxi dress and heels.
“So, what are you going to do with your life? All you can do is teach.”
Well since you brought it up, yeah, I actually am going to teach. I don’t plan to teach k-12 but rather on the collegiate level. I’m working to finish my undergrad so that I can go get my masters and my doctorate so that I can be a college professor teaching literature, specifically Victorian Literature. I am also working towards a minor in Professional Writing that way I can hone my writing skills for -hopefully- becoming an author one day. And I plan to learn the French language, as well as Japanese, Korean, and Russian so that I am able to not only travel in countries that have these languages, but to also one day have the opportunity to teach English in these countries. So yes, I am just “learning” to be a teacher and nothing else. And while we’re at it, remember how I said earlier that there are STEM majors who are also English majors and it helps them get a leg-up in the world? Well, a lot of lawyers and officials start off as English majors and are able to be widely successful because they learn to write and analyze better than their peers. So, there is always that path too. I won't "just be a teacher," I'll be a great success because of my English Lit degree.