There are many things you learn through experiences. As an English major, I’ve learned that experiences and education go hand in hand. Allowing yourself to be surrounded with like-minded people is exactly what is needed as an English student. Being able to relate with others with common questions that “outsiders” ask is a great conversation starter. I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of different levels of an English student.
The Reader of All
The Lover of Literature
The Critic and Reviewer
But, no matter what level you are on, we are all basically the same. I find myself in a healthy balance of the “Lover of Literature” and the “Critic and Reviewer”. Because although I do enjoy reading, I have not read all the books.
There are times that I find myself searching up phrases, quotes, and book titles midst classroom conversation in order to figure out what everyone is talking about. Whenever my professor or another classmate mention an author, I typically always find myself bookmarking the search page result so I can reference to it later on.
Sometimes being an English student is intimidating. I unfortunately am not as well-versed in literature as I hoped I’d been entering university. But I slowly learned that that’s okay. I realized that there are so many other students like me that enjoy literature, enjoy critiquing, enjoy writing and editing, and all of the above and still find themselves using Sparknotes or skimming reviews and summaries before a big test or writing an essay. It’s terribly common amongst a lot of us college students, which relieved me because I was starting to feel like a terrible English student. Every time I aced my papers that I knew damn well I did not fully read the intended book, I gave myself a half pat on the back because I somewhat deserved it… right?
I laugh at all this now, but I’m actually glad I experienced this. When I entered university, I had just finished two years at a community college that had little to no literature based courses. So all the love and eagerness I accumulated throughout high-school diminished throughout those two years. Going into my first semester, I had no clue what I was doing anymore. I had no clue how to finish a book within a matter of days, my attention span for reading at long lengths at a time were no longer there… I had no idea what to do with myself or the stack of books and lists of essays I had to write within a matter of days.
This is why as English students, and just English majors/educators/etc. in general, have to stick together. Instead of making each other feel like one is better than the other, we should keep informing each other of awesome books to read, new and old. We should keep open discussions about things that we enjoy and always recommend new things to one another. I find myself in such a better place now than I had this time last year because I was able to realize all of these things I felt bad about doing were very common and definitely okay. I just had to keep in mind that habits like this must not be kept.
I made it a point to start off this semester on the right foot. Due to this, I have been able to read all the required readings so far, write accurate and more in depth essays, and actually be able to discuss close readings in class, rather than waiting for that one student to relate what we read to something more current. Doing this typically shifts the whole discussion from being about the book, to being something much more personal. Which is great, but not so great for those of us who did read the required text… which I am now realizing. (Sorry, past classmates… I am aware of my mistakes now.)
But either way! Being an English student is awesome, regardless of what made-up level of student that I so cleverly (not) created in a matter of seconds you are in. You are still an English student and you are awesome! Lets just keep this in mind next time we are conversing with our classmates and peers alike. Rather than putting each other down or thinking we are better than one another, let’s instead create open discussions filled with recommendations and common interests.