Being an English major is not only about reading and writing; it is a commitment that lasts a lifetime. As an English major, you start to see the world differently than before you went to school. Things like grammar, punctuation, and the misuses of “they’re,” “there,” and “their” really get on your nerves, but you wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here is a list of 10 things that reflect the joys and challenges that we bookworms have to face.

1.  Reading is no longer ‘fun’ for you.

Whenever you pick up a book to read, you instinctively start searching for a pen. After taking all of those classes, you are now programmed to automatically take notes, underline quotes, or point out interesting themes. This may sound useful, but when you’re just trying to enjoy a book, reading becomes a chore again.

2. The urge to quote writers.

Whether it’s Hawthorne, Shakespeare, or Dostoevsky, you have to make the writer quotable when you’re an English major. It’s almost a rite of passage to memorize your favorite line from your favorite works of literature. You should be able to say “Well, according to so-and-so…” after taking one of these classes, right?  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as literary buffs: look and feel smart?

3. The constant mental grammar corrections.

There are only three types of “there,” and they’re not difficult once you study their differences. You become appalled by all of the bad grammar that is running rampant all over the internet. Facebook is no longer a place to stay in touch with people because it has become a hot spot for grammatical errors that get under your skin. You may have to cope with the frustration or risk losing friends for constantly correcting them.

4. That gigantic book collection.

If you’re like me, you have a huge collection of books that you’ve read, but you also have a collection of books that you want to read. You start to run out of places to put more bookcases. However, it’s hard to part with books that you love. A library in your house would be like a playground. Who needs the great outdoors when you can visit worlds that authors create?

5. Liking fictional characters more than real people.

Fictional characters are so fascinating that the people in real life start to look dull.  Interpersonal conversations become boring in comparison to the mesmerizing exchanges between characters.  In the end, you grow so attached to characters that once a book is finished, it feels like you’ve lost a friend…until you read it four more times just to “visit” them.  

6. You get used to reading books with hundreds of pages.

English professors seem to like assigning lengthy books for their students to read, but they have no idea how thoroughly you analyze. On the other hand, maybe you’re a skimmer who only looks for the bare essentials that are needed to get a good grade.  Either way, nobody wants to read a 400 page novel in the middle of the semester when you have other classes to complete. The books are never as interesting as the professor claims.

7. You know the pain of writing lengthy research papers.

Just when you thought reading so much was bad, writing becomes the worst part.  It takes a lot of time, effort, and imagination to come up with a really interesting topic. Personally, I want to write about something that interests me if I’m going to invest hours of my time into a project. However, not everyone is that lucky. Who thought that doing a 15-20 page research paper at the end of the semester was a good idea?  Sometimes, you contemplate changing your major.

8. The writing procrastination.

Even if you get an early start, life gets in the way and delays your progress.  More commonly, you wait until the last minute for that extra boost of anxiety to get your work done at the last minute.  I’m more of start-it-a-month-in-advance-because-I’m-neurotic kind of person, but go with whatever keeps you sane.

9. You can’t turn off that deep analysis.

Your mind’s eye has been opened forever. Suddenly, everything has a deeper, subtler meaning! This is both a blessing and a curse.  Never again can you watch show or movie without finding symbolism, irony, and all of those magical things that make literature so addicting. There seem to be hidden meanings to everything, even when there aren’t. You’ll find yourself reading into things too deeply, sometimes.

10. Needing experience for a job, but you’re so awesome that employment isn’t important.

Being an English major means that you’re trying to do what you love for the rest of your life: write. Still, how can you do that when jobs require so much experience?  After all of those years of reading and writing in school, you still need three to five years experience to get most writing, editing, or copywriting jobs. This can be pretty discouraging once you graduate and have nowhere to work. At least you’ve become a pretty awesome person after those years of studying.  Who needs a job right away when you’re this skillful and proficient in literature? As Shakespeare once said, “To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.” Refer back to #2 of this list.

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