A Renegade, Would-Be English Major

Had I wanted to be an English major, I could have made a very good one.

My parents taught me to read at a very young age; I certainly don’t remember, but my sisters tell me that by the age of three I was already reading children’s books without a single stutter. Later, when I was a young girl living in a new–and childless–neighborhood, I always turned to books for companionship. I’ve always been a fervent reader, and by consequence, a pretty good writer. I’m proud of my talent, but as I progressed in my schooling, I only ever met frustrations, being the best writer in my class. Peer editing has always irritated me; I would nit-pick and correct every detail, down to the very placement of a comma. When I got my paper back, however, I would find no comments or helpful remarks, save for a simple, “Really good!” on the top.

Fast-forward to my college English class. In one hour, the night before the deadline, I whipped up a rough draft that I was certain was only just decent enough. As part of our peer editing, I had to read it aloud to three other classmates. When I finished reading and looked up from our paper, my classmates were staring at me with dropped jaws, with nothing to say but, “That was incredible!”

Any other person would take the compliment and smugly allow themselves to believe they’re the reincarnation of Hemingway. Being critical, however, I wasn’t pleased. I knew this was bad and I needed comments; I finally caved and decided to take my paper to my library’s writing center for editing.

My tutor was a Ph.D candidate. For once in my life, I was slightly terrified; I had never truly received criticism on a piece of writing, be it from my peers or my instructors. I was expecting to see my paper riddled with red pen marks, with circled words and underlined sentences and corrections and suggestions.

In half an hour, I got my paper back. Of the four pages I had written, only three sentences were marked. Only two written comments graced the margins. I smiled and thanked my tutor for her time.

Either she was really rushed, or I really am that good.

Reading and writing have always been my greatest strengths, and sometimes I wonder if the universe is screaming, “WHY AREN’T YOU AN ENGLISH MAJOR?!” And I nearly was one, before I realized I didn’t want to be an English teacher and political science was a better fit for me. I want to be lawyer, and one of the skills a lawyer needs it the ability to write, so at least my talent isn’t going to waste. I do, however, still think the universe is shaking its fist at me for jumping ship.

I make no apologies.


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