When I’m reading, I pretend it qualifies as “studying” English.
This has been my habit since beginning college classes nearly two months ago. I appear at my designated study area for the day, whether that be a coffee shop, the desk at my apartment on campus, or a corner in the library. I sit down and, like most millennials, pull out either my smart phone or computer to check my various social media sites before checking the school’s online database that tells me my homework. The days of the planner are long dead and responsibility died with them. I curse schools for becoming tech-savvy. I feel that by doing so they have failed me.
Thus, thirty minutes or so has transpired. I don’t think I’m hooked on social media but so it goes. Maybe I am. After finally discovering what I am supposed to be doing with my designated study time (the responsibility of planning study time into my schedule has not been lost: not yet) I sit down and pull out a text book. Five minutes into “studying” and the textbook has been replaced with a novel or short story collection. But I never worry. I am simply studying my passion for literature. My other studies can wait a little while. They will still get finished.
This habit is especially difficult to curb when studying in a library. There are so many distractions.
As a college freshman I’m often asked what my major is. My response is generally, That’s a great question. People laugh and say, “That’s alright, most people (often pronounced “I”) change(d) their major several times in school. You’re probably doing the smart thing.”
It is a slap in the face every time.
Properly translated this response means, “Wow, you seemed like a smart guy. Too bad you can’t get your s*** together and decide what to do with your life.”
What these people don’t understand is, I think I have. But I’m more afraid to admit that I want to study English than that I have not decided on a major. People often tell me they think I would be a great engineer or biochemist or something similarly romantic and well paying. Furthermore, when I think of English majors I think of girls with hair dyed as an expression of their unique taste, or guys that would rather identify as girls, or people whose skin is pale because they spend all their time in the basement of their mother’s house celebrating fan-fiction from their favorite fantasy franchise.
Needless to say I think my perceptions may be skewed.
But that doesn’t make it any less difficult to consider telling people I’d like to study English. My conception of the field along with my insecurities make my palms sweat just writing this. What if someone sees this? I imagine this is how a homosexual might feel when first coming out to their family. Again, my perception may be skewed, but my perspiration won’t let me ignore my embarrassment.
There is always the question of how to make a living, how to make spending outrageous amounts of money on an education worth while. It puts a lot of pressure on a guy.
I feel like I may be squandering something if I pursue English.
But, there are plenty of arguments for studying English. It makes you a critical thinker, able to convey meaning simply and effectively, skills that are necessary for the business world. Notice the obvious neglect of the mention of journalism, or attempting to become a novelist. Your chances of succeeding as a novelist are practically nil and no one wants more journalists in the world. There’s enough bias and dishonesty without you, thank you very much. But that limits us bookish types to writing business proposals. That sounds fun.
What’s a guy to do I guess.
Speaking of making education worth while, I guess I should be studying. And by studying I mean studying, not reading. Exams are pressing and it is the middle of the semester. Later I will be able to “study English” and pursue my closet fantasies. But for now I must be responsible. My gen-eds are calling.