How I Realized that I Don’t Have to be an English Major

Ever since I was a kid, writing in little composition books and typing up stories in Word Document 1996, I knew what I was going to do with my life. Friends and family alike praised my writing ability. Writing was far from my only interest, but no one was praising the collages I had pasted all over my room, or encouraging me to take dance lessons. Writing seemed like the natural choice.

As if choosing a career is as clear-cut as making one, singular choice in your life, I chose English as my major in 2007. I mean, that made sense right? To be a writer, you should major in English. It did make sense, but I didn’t know why at the time. Vague images of being a big-time writer flashed in my head, but I couldn’t pinpoint what I wanted or how I was going to get there.

I spent the next seven years trying to justify the major I chose for the career I could barely see. I dabbled in every bit of writing I could get my hands on, but never found full-blown success. From blogging to freelancing, to ghostwriting and SEO work, I kept throwing darts at a board, expecting at least one of them to stick.

But my due-paying wasn’t paying off. My resume was unimpressive at best, and embarrassing at worst. Why couldn’t I just do the fun part of writing? The research I conducted gave an endless series of steps on how to be a successful writer. I got tired just reading it. Alas, if I wanted to actually make money doing this thing I loved so much, I had to buckle down and give it some time—mostly spent outside of my comfort zone. Heavy sigh.

I began to dread writing and all related work. It did occur to me to change career paths, but what else was I good at? I had plenty of other interests, but I didn’t know anything about those industries. All the while, echoes of, “you have such a way with words”, and “you should write a book” filled my head. So back at it I would go, trying to find a way to just be a writer.

There was another dream I had harbored since I was a kid. Later, it was demoted into a hobby that was shelved entirely because I needed more time, energy, and money directed at school and writing. It took an old friend talking to me to give me the most obvious epiphany that I shouldn’t have needed.

“I think you should pursue video production,” he told me. He didn’t suggest it. He didn’t say that I should do it if I wanted. He outright told me I should change my major to video production.

It shocked me. He knew I enjoyed doing my own home productions, but they would get me laughed out of a real studio. How could I possibly make it a career?
“That’s what you go to school for,” he said when I protested. It hit me like a ton of bricks. You mean, I don’t have to be an English major? I can’t tell you the relief I felt in that moment. I didn’t have to be a writer.

All my life, I was convinced I only had one talent when I never gave anything else a chance. I let excuses and fear push me toward the safe option. Don’t do that. There’s always going to be a reason not to do something. Go for what you want, before the fear even has a chance to talk you of it. Not everything is as easy as changing your college major, but it can be as easy as doing the research. I encourage you to take one step today toward a dream or secret passion you’ve always had.

If it’s big enough to make your heart swell with joy, it’s worth looking into. And I can vouch for that.

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