Dear World, Please Stop Hating on English Majors

I’ve never been one of those people who knows exactly what they want to be when they grow up. Even when I was asked as a kid, my answers mostly consisted of vague pipe dreams of being famous, but I didn’t know what for. Not that any five-year-old needs to have any semblance of an idea, but thirteen years later, when I was applying to college, I was still stuck in that stage of not knowing. And that’s a terrifying feeling, the fear that you’ll never find your true passion and be able to make a career out of it. 

In all my college applications, I put journalism as my prospective major, but when I got to school in the fall, I fell back to being undecided, as journalism didn’t feel like it would be for me. About mid-way through the fall semester, I was struck with a sudden realization: I had already found my passion. Something I’ve loved my entire life—reading and writing. I’ve always loved my English classes over the years, and I'm used to getting way too excited whenever we would start a new book and feeling proud and accomplished when I finally finished an essay. I couldn’t believe I had never even considered being an English major because as soon as I had my epiphany, I felt like I could finally release a breath I’d been holding for months.

Photo by Alexis Brown from Unsplash

But why hadn’t I ever considered majoring in English? I think I had always blocked it from my mind after hearing from countless people that, "There’s no point in an English degree. It’s not practical. You won’t find a job." These types of comments had unconsciously guided my thought process in thinking about majors, even though I didn’t agree with them.

That type of external pressure is completely unfair and can potentially prohibit people from following their passions. I strongly believe that no one else gets to have a say in your major. College is all about finding yourself, finding what you love and what you’re good at. It’s ultimately your experience and your life, and life is too short to not follow your dreams. Other people in the world shouldn’t determine what you can or can’t do.  a hand holds a pen writing on sheets of paper on a wooden desk. there's a coffee cup and a notebook in front of it. Free-Photos | Pixabay

No one should feel ashamed of their major! This is something I’m still working on. Even though I’m happy with my major, it can be hard to deal with the forced smiles or pitying glances when I tell people that I’m an English major. All too often, my declaration will be immediately followed by a doubtful “Good luck” by whoever I’m talking to because so many people are under the false impression that English majors should not be taken seriously. 

On the contrary, English majors learn crucial skills like critical and creative thinking, analysis, communication, argumentation, and opening oneself up to different perspectives. These skills can then be incorporated effectively into just about any career; English undergrads can go on to be lawyers, editors, doctors, teachers, police officers, or journalists, just to name a few. I hope to go into publishing and become a book editor in New York City. It’s obviously a lofty goal, but one that I believe will be within my reach if I work hard enough—which I plan to. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.  two girls talking Unsplash

Bottom line: all majors are important. All majors are valid and something to take pride in. The next time someone asks you what you’re majoring in, smile and respond with confidence and passion, regardless of whether you’re majoring in English literature or biochemistry or anything in between. If you’re feeling pressured to go into a STEM field but would rather write a ten-page paper on a novel than conduct experiments and type up a lab report, consider majoring in English. You’re not alone, and you’ll be much happier pursuing what you love.