When I Say I’m An English Major, You Hear…

English majors get criticized often and people have many misconceptions of us. We're labeled as the "easy major".Just because we're not calculating the circumference of the earth on the daily basis, or measuring how much liquid nitrogen is needed for a science experiment, doesn't give anyone the right to proclaim us as an "easy major". Honestly, I'd like to see you attempt to write a 20 page analysis on a 18th century novel for all five classes. Here are the top five comments I've heard since declaring my English major, that are absolutely wrong.

1. “I am absolutely dying to look over, help you with, and maybe (if you’d be so kind to allow me to) write your papers.”

Trust me, we hate writing our own papers. Just like you’ve never been particularly fond of using 10-12 pages to explain in MLA formatting how Mark Twain’s characters may reflect his own racial biases, I would also rather be doing six billion other things. So no, I will not look over a dozen pages of your menial work because you’ve decided that a degree-less person of your own age will want and magically be able to turn your last minute 2 a.m. effort into something cohesive.

2. “I’m going to be a teacher.”

Maybe it’s that no one believes that studying books has any practical use besides supervising a new generation as they read the same book, ad infinitum. But don’t be fooled by your core experiences with books being in the classroom. The skills that English majors develop (and literally any student who’s ever put any effort at all into an English class) like those that allow us to communicate and analyze closely are both transferrable and highly marketable. So there is still a chance I won’t be making much money in the future and won’t be able to afford that beautiful Pinterest bookshelf staircase, but I will definitely have a vast array of options in how to choose to be impoverished.

3. “I’m going to correct your grammar and spelling.”

I couldn’t care less. I can’t remember the last time I got through an entire essay and didn’t have to click through the spell check at least 25 times. But I have absolutely no qualms about calling you out for not knowing the differences between they’re, there, and their.

4. “I’m an introvert with no interest in being anywhere that isn’t a library and all my friends are fictional characters.”

Don’t get me wrong. Most of my favorite people just happen to be fictional. But we English majors, especially those of us who write, love to experience life as much as (and maybe more-so than) the rest of our peers. We need to meet people and come into contact with as many possible circumstances and perspective as we can. If we don’t make connections and have any meaningful or fleeting encounters, what is there to be inspired by? Writers need the real world to inspire us to create our own.

5. “I’m going to write about you.”

While this thought does often cross my mind, chances are that any character of mine that seems even remotely like you is pure coincidence. And they were most likely inspired by a million other people with the same commonplace characteristic which you’ve now plucked from the many in this piece and decided that I’m obviously obsessed with you. In other words, I would very much prefer if you didn’t flatter yourself.