English Major Musings is an evergreen Paperback Paris column curated by Contributing Writer Alicia LeBoeuf.
As an English major, doubt has carried a strong presence throughout my college career. While many other college students are susceptible to doubt themselves and the path they’ve chosen for themselves, English majors can experience expressions of uncertainty from not only themselves, but their family, friends, and peers, and society on an almost daily basis.
When everyday people—from the person cutting my hair to far-flung family members—ask me what it is I’m majoring in at college, sometimes I hesitate before responding with “I’m an English major.” Though I am incredibly proud to call myself a student of English and the opportunity to study a subject that I’m passionate about, I still harbor that irrational worry over what people might think of my chosen path. I am still afraid their reactions will tell some sense of discomfort or even disappointment about my choice. More often than not, they are confused. I can see the wheels in the asker’s brain turning as they struggle to grasp a career that requires an English degree. Almost always, the follow-up is some variation of “Are you going to be a teacher?” to which I have to further burden them with the fact that no, I do not plan on becoming a teacher.
A lot of friends and peers seem to accept the fact that I am an English major, but just don’t bother trying to even understand why. I think most of the time I’m just resigned as someone “who likes books and writing.” While this isn’t exactly false, it’s also not the whole story. I have listened to other English majors share horror stories about parents who just can’t for the life of them understand why their child is deciding to dedicate their college education to the world of literature and writing.
With interactions like these, it can make even the most confident person second-guess their choices. Though I know that there are plenty of careers out there for English majors (I even talk about it in a previous English Major Musings), sometimes I go through low-periods of wondering, ‘Are there really jobs out there for me?’ ‘Who is going to hire an English major?’ Which then leads to… what if I majored in something else?
Though I am an English major, I am also a Communication minor. Even though it’s “just a minor,” at my school, quite a hefty amount of credits need to be completed in order to obtain a minor from the Communication program. There are many aspects of being involved in the Communication field that I enjoy, such as public relations and social media marketing. I have an internship that Communication majors almost exclusively sought out and want to possibly have job positions that Communication majors are also eyeballing for themselves. So why am I not a Communication major, I wonder? Why not make the switch? Surely employers would rather see “Communication” than “English” under my education on my resume.
As soon as my mind settles into this way of thinking, I have to remind myself: English is where I belong. And it is. I was meant to be an English major, and it’s the area that I’m wholeheartedly passionate about. I am also lucky to have a strong support system when it comes to my parents. My parents have never once expressed doubt in my choice to be an English major – if anything when I switched my major to English, they seemed even more supportive of me in my college education. I believe it’s because they know, just as I do, that English is the path for me and that I will turn it into a career.
There will always be doubt. If you didn’t doubt yourself every now and again, you wouldn’t be human. I believe that doubt, like all other negative feelings, should be acknowledged. While I think that it’s important to recognize these feelings as legitimate, it’s even more important to prevent things such as doubt to crush your spirit and steal your passion.
Stay tuned for the next installment of English Major Musings at Paperback Paris!
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