“what are you going to do with that?” – why my major is my choice

I cannot count the amount of times I have been asked this question.

Every time I tell someone what my college major, I tell them that I’m majoring in English with a writing emphasis. Sometimes I also add that I am planning to minor in digital media. But no matter what I say, the dreaded question will undoubtedly follow.

“What are you going to do with that?”

Primarily the older generation asks this question, and I can see why. College educations weren’t as necessary as they are now, and the demand for jobs was completely different. They can see the need for new technical jobs, like engineering. But those going into the humanities are often criticized for their choice of study.

Part of me actually likes getting asked this question. Because then I am able to say that, no, I am not going to become a journalist. Actually, I plan on living my life as either a novelist or a screenwriter.

The words “novelist” and “screenwriter” seem like even worse words than the dreaded “humanities” these days. I have gotten all kinds of reactions to this statement. Some people are very supportive of my ambitions. The ones who know me well are aware that I will find a way to do something if I really want it, no matter how difficult the task. When I was in high school, I told people I wanted to publish a book before graduation. No one believed I could, so I naturally had to prove them wrong and ended up publishing a short book in 2013.

Other people hear my plans and give me the lifted eyebrow of doubt and confusion.

I realize that it is a difficult task to write novels for a living, but I want to do it. And it’s actually really irritating to have to explain to people that, yes, I do think I am capable of doing it. In fact, I think I need to do it. From a young age, I found books to be lacking in one way or another. There is an epidemic of poor writing, and it’s alarming.

Writers are becoming far and few between, probably because of all the stereotypes surrounding writing (you can’t become successful, it’s a worthless field of study, etc). The real study of grammar is lagging behind, and students are losing touch with the written word.

I feel that I need to become a writer to help fix this.

My parents (who met while working for a newspaper) joke that I got my mother’s technical writing skills and my father’s creativity, making for the perfect novelist. And, like I said before, it’s what I want to do, so no one can stop me.

Writing is what I want to do, even if the salary is inconsistent and success is sometimes difficult to find. When someone insinuates that a job as a novelist is impractical, it almost confuses me. They are not me. Money isn’t why I’m choosing this career path. One should never define success by dollar signs.

Writing is the only practical choice for me.

– Meagan DeGraaf

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