If there is one thing I’ve grown used to as I study writing in college, it is the jokes cracked when I answer the question, “What’s your major?”
My indignation and annoyance at these jokes is generally met with an eye roll and varying responses, usually along the lines of, “Oh, I was just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?”
However, my absolute favorite response is, without a doubt, “I mean, it’s true.”
Despite the incredible ignorance of this statement, I’m not going to inform it. At least, not in this post. However, I am going to explain my own reaction.
What I’ve heard from so many of my friends (or random people) who make fun of my major is, “You can’t do it.” No, those aren’t the words that come out of their mouth, but it is what they are saying. My major teaches me the importance of words and how they can change the way people around us see themselves.
I know that writing is a difficult and competitive profession, but so are most. Success involves setting goals and taking them and yourself seriously enough to get to where you want to be, just as it is in any other career. It involves knowing when a project has failed and not letting it keep you from succeeding in the future.
My major is not the butt of your joke. The butt of your joke is when my success makes it ironic. When the success of thousands of other writing, english, or literature majors make your joke fall flat.
Telling me that I am majoring in unemployment or will be a barista for the rest of my life is you assuming that I will fail as a writer. You assume that I am not good enough to succeed or that I don’t have enough drive to succeed.
As a side note: You’re also being a jerk to the person who makes your coffee in the morning. By saying that only people who are not successful in other careers would ever choose to work in a coffee shop devalues their personal success and what they do. Let’s give all the baristas in the world a day off and see how productive the professional world is then.
In conclusion, anyone out there who is thinking about any creative major, this is for you:
You can do this. You are not condemning yourself to a life of unemployment. There are more jobs and careers out there for writers, artists, actors, and other creative professionals than the general population might let you think. Your professors will talk about all the different kinds of writing there are or how you can use literature to help you relate to the people around you.
It’s not going to be easy, but it is most certainly possible.