Monday, April 21, 2014

I'm an English Major: Rewards for Being a Couch Potato

A brief anecdote about my recent experiences in the English major, here at UW. 

In my two short years I've been a part of the UW college campus, the only good things I've heard about being an English major... have been spoken by fellow English department members. 

At the risk of sounding cynical, I'm going to go out on a limb and say one of the concentrations specific to our scholarly focus - beyond even Literature and Creative Writing - is learning how to defend it in conversation. It's kind of an ego-killer when you hear about how all the other scholastic options are better than yours at your own school... and especially when even the Communications department thinks they can get in on the fun.

Recently, I suffered a bit of a Crisis of Future, after the publication of The Daily's annual "Career Guide" alongside its usual daily campus newspaper, where I found not even a single mention of a Humanities major, regardless of English itself making that list. What had so far been an ordinary morning suddenly spiraled into chaos, as the various factions of my brain desperately fought to regain domination over the near-crippling doubt set in place by the idea that maybe my English major was a waste of time. (This is kind of a routine thing with me, a kid who was raised on the "doctor, lawyer, accountant" mantra.)

Thankfully for me, an extended weekend at home was on the agenda. After two days vegging out on the sofa and catching up with my television, especially an exceptional psychologically-healing DVR-enabled eight-hour marathon of the current season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I realized that checking back in with my schoolwork was probably necessary.

That's how, at 1am on Friday, I made the discovery that I had a two-paged, single-spaced essay reflection on comparison of two recent reads we'd covered in class, due at 8am on Friday. 

Stream-of-consciousness has always been my preferred essay-writing method, so in the ensuing hour, I knocked out both pages, and turned in the assignment without even glancing over my work, all by 2am. I was lucky enough to have my sister, The Cheerleader, sitting next to me, the following day when I received my results, plus grading commentary: "Beautifully written and great analyzing. I will be using this as an example in class." I  basically got a high five for being a couch potato, instead of the slap on the wrist that was going to help me stop procrastinating. (I am often rewarded for my study habits in this manner... hello, last Quarter's 4.0 in INFO.)

After reading the response aloud, my sister laughed, and vocalized a very pertinent question that changed the way I had been looking at my scholastic pursuits, "How much would it suck if you were anything but an English major?" It all clicked for me.

I am an English major, because I'm great at it. 


I have a firm handle on my talents, I work well under pressure, and routinely produce quality material, even if it may have stemmed from deadline duress. Sure, it may make it easier to get a job in the future with engineering or medical degrees, but if you do a terrible job, if you're not good at the things you do - or just as bad, if you don't like what you do - then how will that work out? I know how to work, and I enjoy doing it, and I do it well. At the risk of sounding like someone's "Words to Live By" Pinterest board, I have faith in my abilities and my future... even if those at The Daily might not. Writing wrocks.

end scene.

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