I am not defined by my major

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


I was an English and Psychology double major and I constantly get some of the stupidest requests/jokes bounced off of me because of my "specialty".  I'm sure there are other majors for which stupid remarks are common, and I'd be interested to know what kind of stupid comments those majors elicit.

Here are some typical ones for me:
"Oh, are you going to psychoanalyze me based on my habits/dream/choices now?"
"Tell me, English major, what's a better word for ______?"
"You're not going to correct my grammar, are you?"
Any Freud joke
"Do you want to be a psychiatrist?"
Any Jane Austen joke
"You should know more words than me because you're an English major."
Any grammar question
"Oh, you can analyze me even better because you're both an English and Psychology major!"

There are oodles more, including some which have made me infuriated that I now wish I had saved.

The reason I bring this all up is because tonight one of my nearest and dearest friends, one who has known me since before I decided to become an English/Psych major, matriculated in college, graduated high school and graduated elementary school ... she asked one of these.  Except hers was possibly far worse, and not just because she has known me forever.

She asked, "When does evening start, Miss English major?"

ARGH.

Seriously???  In what land does being an English major better qualify me to answer that question than a Sociology major, a Math major or an Art History major?!

Face it: I went to a liberal arts college.  I am not any more qualified to know anything about anything than a History major or a Philosophy major.  Us liberal arts grads merely scratched at the surface of our majors.  I am not qualified to make judgments of people's emotional disorders or behavioral problems.  I never even took Clinical Psychology.

Similarly, an English major does not bode his or her time memorizing vocabulary lists or learning the ins and outs of English grammar.  I am not a human dictionary or grammar book.  In fact, it wasn't until my final semester of high school, in my AP Logic and Composition class, that I had my first formal lesson in grammar.  To this day, I am more "schooled" and aware of the formal rules of French grammar than I am of English.  I learned English grammar by speaking and listening and living in the United States, just like the lot of people asking me on account of my "expertise".

Being an English major consisted of reading a lot of poems, novels and novellas from different genres and time periods, discussing our thoughts on the writing and symbolism and turning class discussions into critical essays.  Papers for English majors are wildly different from history papers, research papers or science papers.

Other stereotypes I'd like to debunk: I am not in love with Jane Austen.  Pride and Prejudice is not my Bible.  I am also not in love with Sigmund Freud.  I think his ideas are, for the most part, completely bogus.  I do not personally subscribe to the idea of clinical psychology ... I could explain that better, but I  only really know the basics, from AP Psychology in high school.  I think Americans are over-prescribed in every sense and that many mental illnesses (depression, especially) stem from behavioral prompts rather than biological ones.

If asked, I could tell you what I think you're thinking, but what I'll be thinking is "You're an idiot."

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