Many people ask me, “Why are you an English major?” right after I say I don’t want to be a teacher.
Well for one thing, I am currently up at 3 AM working on a close reading for a presentation. And I am enjoying it. But here are some other reasons in which my fellow English majors may agree with me:
1. I am an English major because I think words are beautiful.
They are so crucial – they are the way in which we communicate with one another. But with certain forms and diction they become art. They become story telling.
2. Literature and poetry are my puzzles.
I love rereading a passage or favorite novel and seeing different connections I never noticed before. Great minds made these puzzles – infused with cues and clues that if only I could understand I would become one step closer to seeing the work through the writer’s eyes.
3. Coffee shops and cubbies are my laboratories.
They are the places I go to feel surrounded by good vibes and the opportunity to do my work: to read my book, to write my play.
4. I love reading a novel or passage and realizing, That’s me or My friend does this.
Writing – in novels especially – is infused with psychological observations on why we do the things we do or why we feel the way we do. I love this. I love being able to look critically at myself and the world through the lense of a novel. Most of us, as humans, get so caught up in day to day problems that we forget to realize why we think a certain way (perhaps as a result of society) or that we have feelings on a certain subject because of events of our past. If we don’t understand ourselves, how would we expect anyone else to? Furthermore, if we don’t keep tabs on why we think the things we do – how can we know we aren’t all being brainwashed?
5. I love reading so many different types of writing through different perspectives.
I love being taken on emotional and mental journeys. These people put words on a paper. And you see images and a life flickering behind your eyes. You were moved to tears when Dumbledore died or when Anne Elliot was forced to be around Fredrick Wentworth while she was still mourning the loss of his love. You have been moved to rage when a novel didn’t end your way or ended without an ending. You have been given this opportunity to go on fantastical adventures, imagine society in different ways, and experience things you may have never experienced. So read.
6. A baby screams just to hear its voice.
That is writing for me. It is my scream against the world, it is the coo of a happy being, it is the words of my internal monologue and critiques of everything. That is what writing is for a lot of people. It is our personal meditation on our life. It is our poem. At the end of the day – when you die – what do you leave behind? Well one of these things is your unique perspective on life and everything in it. How can you preserve this? Through writing. Share your voice.
So next time you wonder why someone is an English major – think of these things. These are people who have a voice. English majors write to share their voice and read to hear other voices. But even if you aren’t an English major, you should read and write as much as possible anyways. So much wisdom and knowledge is passed in words in novels, in articles, and in stories. Use it.