Ever since I was in elementary school, I was always in search of the perfect story to read. I’ve always figured it was because books gave me a reality out of my own. It’s cliché, but whenever I read, I always found myself transported to a different universe without the need to get out of my seat. But when it came down to finding the story that I always wanted to read, I was consistently out of luck. I’d go through books week by week, trying to find characters to relate to, plots to read, something that matched a story I would imagine.
So when I couldn’t find the perfect story, what happened next could be described by a quote from Toni Morrison, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
One spontaneous night, I pulled out a used notebook and a pencil, and I started planning my first story. I wrote such poorly created characters, mediocre descriptions, and ridiculous plotlines that to this day still don’t make any sense. But that night marked the beginning of multiple late nights of writing, creating worlds filled with fun adventures, fantastical creatures—anything my elementary school brain could imagine really. When I picked up a pen and began to write a chapter, it was like a tiny flame would ignite in my brain, and I couldn’t stop writing because I’d be too excited to write what happens next.
Of course, I’m not in elementary school anymore with all this free time, but it’s a start to explaining why I’m an English major and a Creative Writing minor. Writing has always been something that helped me express myself, and to me, there’s a beauty to finding bigger meanings within text—creating something so powerful out of so little. English made the most sense to me as something I would pursue as a result. But truth be told, I didn’t always feel that way.
I grew up in a community where STEM-related fields were most praised, while humanities were frowned upon. I guess it made sense that many people questioned why I was doing English when I could be “more successful” in Math, Biology, Engineering, etc. There was even someone in my high school who lectured me on why English wasn’t practical and why I would be a failure in the end. So for the longest time, I didn’t feel supported in what I was passionate about, and at one point, I even considered just completely tossing aside English and pursuing Math instead.
I spent so many nights contemplating, feeling so unsure of where being an English major would take me. I talked to so many teachers about their paths to their majors and their careers, Googling potential careers for English, and long nights talking to my older sister about my frustration. But in the end, even after all the encouragement to keep going, I still felt so unsure.
But I remember something that my dad told me when I asked him what I should grow up to be: “find something that you love, and become good at it.” My French teacher phrased it a little differently: “if you pursue something you love, the money will follow.” I guess my point is that sometimes the hard part is not what you choose to do, but really sticking to it.
Despite much criticism, I stuck with English because, to put it simply, I loved it. And honestly, that is all the reason I really need to give. I may not know what lies ahead in my future or what will happen after graduation, but I know that I’m doing something I’m passionate about. I’ve gotten so many opportunities as an English major, such as being surrounded by some of the best scholars and learning so much about the world and the people around me. I’ve gotten a chance to work with famous authors like Joyce Carol Oates and Giovanni Singleton, read so many stories I’d never thought had such larger meanings behind it, and even intern at a publishing company in Toronto. Choosing English was one of my biggest decisions in my life, and I don’t regret it.
I’m not the best writer, but I consider myself an honest one. I may not regret my decision to pursue English, but admittedly, pursuing your passion is difficult. You might feel uncertain about your future, need that little extra reassurance that this is what you want. For many of you considering what you want to pursue in the future, this may be your challenge as well. But think of it like this: 75% of college students change their major at least once before graduation. Sometimes people will go into a career they thought they wanted, but actually end up not enjoying. We can’t predict how our lives will go, but no matter what challenges come your way, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide where you want to go with your life. The perfect story may not exist, but in the end, it’s really your story that matters the most.
So what will you write?