I am an English major.
And I hate that every time I say that, I feel the urge to immediately justify myself to people.
Let me explain why I am an English major.
I was lucky enough to be able to explore different options and do different things when I was growing up to figure out what I liked, what I was good at, etc. I had a modeling agent for a year when I was in high school. I am not tall enough or patient enough to model. I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for a summer. I am pretty good, but still, designing just wasn’t for me.
In high school, math was nemesis and science wasn’t far behind. I did love my AP Government class though. I grew up in a family that talked about current events and politics and I had a teacher who made learning exciting. However, I was also good at writing. Or so I was told. I was a section editor for the school magazine, on yearbook and newspaper staff and posted some of my writing on Facebook occasionally. Most of the compliments were from my friends though so I assumed they were just being nice. Until I posted more personal, emotional things. And then I got responses from the most unexpected people, all positive and inspiring. But I was still interested in debates and the law. So I asked my AP Government teacher, who dropped out of law school, if I realistically had a shot at being a lawyer. And he said “Definitely.” He also told me that the most sought after degree for a lot of law schools today is English. So I decided on a major in English, concentration in writing and a minor in Political Science, all with a pre-law focus.
That being said, I would like to believe that I’m pretty good at what I do.
When I tell people I’m an English major, I brace myself. I’ve heard, “Yeah but aren’t you taking any real classes?” or “So you’re learning how to say ‘Would you like fries with that?'” or “So what you read novels all day?”
Yes. I am taking “real” classes and I do have to read novels for some of my classes. But that is not everything that I have to do. My hardest paper in college thus far was for my Poetry class. I had to write 5 pages on how the rhythm affects meaning using Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. (Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…)
Now many people, especially those who aren’t as acquainted with poetry, confuse rhythm with rhyme scheme or sound. Let me be clear, rhythm is the stressed and unstressed syllables of words. I doubt many of you science majors who think that your work is harder than mine can tell me how stressed syllables affect the meaning of a poem.
I’m not trying to degrade anyone’s major. I will most likely not find a cure to cancer, or send a rocket in to the atmosphere or solve the economic problems in America. But don’t you dare say that English classes are not as hard as any other class. Everyone has their strengths.
As an English major, my long term goal is to be a lawyer. I know how to analyze and how to argue effectively and break down another argument. However, if that plan falls through, I have other options. I can write. I can teach. I can analyze. I can critique. And I can continue to learn. Don’t ever doubt me. You will only fuel my fire more.
So yes, I read great novels in my classes. I also read historical documents. I argue, I analyze, I write. I emphasize, research and learn. I am an English major.
And wherever this life ends up taking me, I will always proudly say that I was an English major.
While I could go on forever about how my major is just as important as anyone else’s and how no one has the right to say otherwise. I will leave you with a quote from a great writer, that I relate to immensely:
“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” -William Shakespeare