How Being an English Major Ruins You for Life

Once upon a time (Tuesday) I was sitting in my 20th Century American Novel class discussing a novel (Julia Alvarez’s novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents) when an epiphany hit me and caused me to giggle in the middle of a heated class discussion. I began to realize the ridiculously funny side effects of being an English major. For anyone who doesn’t know what us English majors do for the four years of our collegiate education, I hope this lends some insight (good or bad, I have no idea).

1. We talk about fictional characters all day, er’ day

Kristen Wiig Yes animated GIF
said every English major ever

The basis of our education revolves around discussing the choices and lives of fictional characters, investing whole-heartedly in our opinions concerning people who are mere fiction. I do not lie when I say we spend an hour talking about a character’s mentality based on “facts” we pull from the book or, more often than not, our ass. We make assumptions about these characters and how they would react to situations not even mentioned in the book for weeks on end. We are graded on our “interpretations” which should really read assumptions. We are fairly detached from reality, as you can see.

2. Skimming is life

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Worth the risk.

English majors have absurd amounts of reading. We have on average 4-5 classes a semester and, if you are deep into your degree classes, you may have 5 or more novels to read for each class. That’s almost 20-25 books or more to read in a 16 week time frame. You skim to survive.

3. It’s hard to recreationally read

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Me to everyone reading 50 Shades of Gray (I read it only to confirm my assumption that it was awfully written…)

First off, you barely have time to read for pleasure during the school year. Secondly, if you do, you begin to analyze everything! It’s a great story with poor diction and plot movement. It’s a bland story with amazing voice and tone. There are books, which will not be named because I fear I will be shunned from society, that I see merit in but are also flawed in my eyes. I’m not talking Twilight, everybody knows the series showcased an atrocious message to young girls, although convincingly and well written.

4. You always sound pretentious

harry potter animated GIF
What I assume people look like when I talk about books

I love reading, and talking about what I read. I have a select few friends who enjoy reading recreationally and when we talk about books, mainly classics, it is hard to not sound pretentious. As an English major, we are pumped full of elitist-sounding vocabulary that make the words coming out of our mouths sound like they would wear Sperry’s, Ralph Lauren polos, and sweaters tied over their shoulders. Words like “dichotomy”, “juxtaposition”, “modernity”, “diction”, and oh so many more word vomit out of our mouths. We don’t mean to sound pretentious, we simply can’t help it.

5. We will never enjoy movie adaptations

harry potter animated GIF
no caption needed (note the irony)

Most English majors are book lovers and it is rare we see a movie adaptation without having read the book. So instead of being 100% immersed in the cinematic experience, we find ourselves nit-picking at what the director chose to leave out and why they were damn wrong! Let’s not get started on Harry Potter or the Hunger Games. It will always be a blood bath between books and movies.

6. Not understanding people who don’t read

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Books are life

Such a creature can’t possibly exist, can it? When someone says they don’t read, I first want to say that they read every day (texts, emails, twitter, facebook, etc) because I’m a smart ass. Secondly, if I were to make the first point, why not pick up a book and read, since, you know, you do it every day anyway? Reading is what separates us from animals! Or is that expressing abstract thoughts? I guess we will never know.

7. Don’t. Bash. Our. Favorite. Book.

Earlier in this semester, I had the unfortunate experience of overhearing a girl in the hallway call To Kill a Mocking Bird a bad book. I may or may not have tweeted that she should have her tongue cut out to compensate for her crimes of blasphemy. We live and die by our favorite books, so toe the line carefully.

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don’t try me, I took one kickboxing class 2 years ago

8. An English Degree is a BA in BS

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Aren’t we all just BSing to get through life though?

I had a very witty, funny, sporadic professor once tell me that all an English Degree is, is a BA in Bullshit. We are told to write 10 page research papers. Wanna know how we do it? We look up random books that are scarcely related to our research topic, skim them with great speed, pick one vague and ambiguous quote from 3-5 sources and create a paper. And you know what, it’s been successful so far. I may not have much of an idea about what I am writing, but I am really good at convincing other people I do. Don’t get me wrong, I truly try on papers, but when your professor’s secretly meet before semester and plan to have every paper in every class due on the same day, you get desperate and good at improvising. And it’s ok for me to say all of this, because my professor said it first (she also told me Wikipedia was an ok source to use for a research presentation aka an English major’s dream).

9. You say you’ll never read again

Who are we kidding!? I am already gearing up for my leisurely reading come graduation! Half of my Christmas list is books! After 16 weeks of books, books, books we swear off reading. Then we see what naive fools we are. We can never quit books, there is just too many of them.

Monsters Inc Reading animated GIF
every. time.

Thanks for reading!


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