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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Letter to English Majors.


When you're forced to empty out your bank account to order novels and poetry and books filled with scholars debating whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote anything, be happy with your budget diet of ramen noodles and taco bell for the rest of the month.  You will never again have an excuse to empty your bank account on books.

When you think that maybe you've chosen the wrong major because all the boys in your class wear pants tighter than yours and all the girls in your class have perfected the air of not caring and have twitter bios quoting an obscure author you've never heard of before this semester, don't.  They're pretending too.  And if you stop pretending, you'll learn some really beautiful things.

When you're tempted to give in and read the spark-notes version of everything so that you can sleep and actually have a life on the weekends, don't do it.  One day you will think of Coleridge and Byron and Kerouac as your best friends that you've never met, and any time with them you cheated yourself out of will be time you regret.

Pay close attention to the red marks on your papers.  Don't be too offended that you actually did not write the greatest paper in the world and you actually are not the voice of your generation like you maybe thought.  Because after this, you will have to pay hundreds of dollars to get someone to edit your writing with that much care and precision.


When you're on your fifth cup of coffee, trying to stay awake so you can finish reading only to wake up a few hours later to go discuss it, enjoy it.  Because one day you will stay up late reading only to have to wake up a few hours later and go to work, where no one cares to discuss what you read.

Try not to complain too much about how you've singlehandedly paid the light bill at Starbucks.  I promise, you will look back on that late-night-turned-early-morning studying and debating with classmates and realize it was some of the most meaningful conversation you've ever had. 

Enjoy the late nights, the burning eyes, the writers block, the thees and thous, the plays and poems and stories. 

Because one day, on a Tuesday, you will be getting ready to start your job that has nothing to do with writing or reading great authors, and you won't be able to think of anything that sounds better than spending the day reading books you don't understand.  And you will wonder...how has it been two entire years since you sat in a classroom, overwhelmed and undereducated and desperately trying to keep up? 


Enjoy the best of times and the worst of times, because secretly, they are all the best of times.

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35 comments:

  1. You are such a great writer!!!

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  2. As a fellow English Major I adore this. It's a decision I have never regretted...even though It's been 9 years since graduation and I have yet to get paid to write (at least the type of writing I want to accomplish). Being an English Major has taught me so many things and has blessed me with many life skills.

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  3. WORD.
    Not an English major, but a Language Arts Middle School teacher. And you just about nailed it, friend.

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  4. I loved this - proud English major in college, and no I am not a teacher or writer now (though there is nothing wrong with either!!)...I can't even tell you how many times I got asked that question!

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  5. I WISH I had majored in English.

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  6. This is fantastic. I do miss pouring over books and papers and really honestly discussing them. I did recently find a new bookstore in my home town, that feels that empty spot a bit. They host writing and peer editing groups, and often you can find someone there that has read the book that you can't put down to pour over it with you. There are other former English Majors out there. You just have to stumble across them.

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  7. So lovely. I LOVED my English classes at UCLA. It feels like a million years ago. I would "tutor" my friends AKA read the books and then give them the analysis etc for their papers because I was going to do it anyway and they hated reading. Hmmmm...I wish someone could have done that for me in my organic chemistry classes..oh well. :) You inspire me!

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  8. "Because one day, on a Tuesday, you will be getting ready to start your job that has nothing to do with writing or reading great authors, and you won't be able to think of anything that sounds better than spending the day reading books you don't understand. And you will wonder...how has it been two entire years since you sat in a classroom, overwhelmed and undereducated and desperately trying to keep up? " MY LIFE. :) Because one day, on a Tuesday, you will be getting ready to start your job that has nothing to do with writing or reading great authors, and you won't be able to think of anything that sounds better than spending the day reading books you don't understand. And you will wonder...how has it been two entire years since you sat in a classroom, overwhelmed and undereducated and desperately trying to keep up?

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  9. this is such a great post! While I wasn't an English major, I am a writer, and all of these hold true

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  10. So very true! I read just for fun now but they are the best way to spend my time. I really wish I could have been paid to read all day.

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  11. This is so eloquently and perfectly written. And here I am, on a Tuesday, getting ready to start work ..."that has nothing to do with writing or reading great authors, and you won't be able to think of anything that sounds better than spending the day reading books you don't understand. And you will wonder...how has it been two entire years since you sat in a classroom, overwhelmed and undereducated and desperately trying to keep up?" -- My thoughts today specifically and probably for the last little while since the two year mark of being out of school as a World Literature major is creeping up.

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  12. I wasn't an English major but I can definitely relate to this! I think each college student, no matter their major feels this way after leaving. :-)

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  13. Aw I love this post. I was a French major and went through so many of the same things. Staying up late reading, only to head to work a few hours later, is a regular pastime now!

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  14. such good lessons :) love posts like these!

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  15. Oh man, when I first started uni I was an english major and the amount of money I spent on books was UNREAL

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  16. This is so beautiful. You've seriously just described my life. Wonderful post!

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  17. I'm not an english major, but this was beautifully written!

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  18. Wish I would have majored in English, especially if I wrote like you. Fill me in on your favorite classics, I had read some, but not widely versed. And yes, it was Tuesday and no one at work cares what I read, and few care what I write...sigh. nail on the head.

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  19. I majored in English and am lucky enough to work in a high school library. I initially started off as a high school English teacher but quickly realized that teaching depleted my love for reading and writing. When I resigned from teaching, my colleagues and admin expressed their concern over me "wasting my education." They couldn't have been more wrong.

    My education in English taught me about the twists and turns of the human experience. And I am convinced that it not only gave me the courage to admit that teaching was not my calling even though I so badly wanted it to be, but the wherewithal to deal with those that would look down on me for quitting.

    As we know so well, "Rome was not built in a day."

    <3

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  20. This was just so lovely. I can't explain how wonderful it is to read such eloquence from someone who so totally understands and puts my life into words. Xo

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  21. I majored in journalism so I get where this is coming from. But I was always offended by the red marks on my paper. How am I not the best writer in the world? :)

    This was so fun to read. And I do believe that today is Kerouac's birthday.
    www.ohtobeamuse.com

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  22. I loved being a student. (not the lazy, sloppy drunken student nights) But I love being in a classroom learning things. Part of me wishes I could be constantly going back to school! x

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  23. Ugh, I needed this like 10 years ago! I was an English major and too many people were like 'what are you going to do with that?'. Let's just say I changed majors a bazillion times and I should have just stuck with my original plan! Sometimes...maybe most of the time...you know who you are even when you don't realize it!

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  24. I considered being an English major, though I went with Chinese while taking plenty of writing classes on the side. I learned so much from those annoying red marks the professors left on my papers!

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  25. As a former English major, this SPEAKS TO ME.
    I love it; beautifully written. :)

    -Ashley
    http://lestylorouge.com

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  26. Although I am the farthest thing from an English major, I love your passion for what you do<3

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  27. This makes me want to cry! I keep asking my husband if I can be a professional student and he says no. I miss my English studying/reading/living days. Le sigh.

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  28. Ugh. Gah. This touches on so many things I've forgotten about being an English major in college. Thanks for the reminder. I feel like I haven't read a book in ages...I feel so guilty about it too.

    Also this: Because after this, you will have to pay hundreds of dollars to get someone to edit your writing with that much care and precision. SO TRUE!

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  29. I've never thought about how valuable having a professor edit your papers really is for a writer. You're so right - it costs a lot in the real world to have someone do that for you. I wasn't an English major, but I did have to write a lot for my major (theology). I never thought about how valuable all that input was from those professors on my papers!

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  30. I was an English major, and this is spot on! Love it.

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  31. This hits home. I was an English major in my undergrad. There is a funny video on buzzfeed about Liberal Arts majors trying to scare kids out of getting Liberal Arts degrees. I have since decided to put my English Degree to work by going to grad school. All I do is write papers and I am leaps and bounds ahead of other majors in my classes. But as far as writing, I do some freelancing, but it's a tough field to get into, not easy unless you know the right people.

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