I’ve often been asked, “What’s the point of getting an English degree?”
With people reading less and the arts being eliminated or reduced from school curriculums, it’s no wonder so many people have assumed a bachelor’s degree in English is a waste of time and money.
I’ve been a Criminal Justice major, a pre-med major, and I’ve turned wrenches for 12 hours a day on a flightline.
I’ve earned a nail technician degree, and I’ve worked as a cook in a hospital for three years.
Yet nothing has given me a sense of satisfaction and a drive to get out of bed in the morning like reading, writing and editing.
Just being able to nurture that passion on a daily basis has made earning a degree in English worthwhile.
Much like music or painting, writing is an art. It utilizes creativity to craft a work of art, a medium of meaning and expression.
My more logically minded friends often struggle with how this is useful.
“You can’t get a job with an English degree, can you?”
Sure. You can find a fulfilling, meaningful career as a writer, editor, journalist, proofreader or teacher, just to name a few.
And while some may not see the value in these careers, just imagine how little history our world would have record of if there was no documentation of it in our libraries and on the bookshelves in our homes. Not to mention, history is now at our fingertips as our history can now be found in print form online.
For example, we not only learn facts about the Holocaust, we are able to feel what Holocaust survivors experienced through the written works of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel.
It seems so often that people place importance on how much money people earn at their job, rather than the richness they experience from loving what they do.
Sure, I would have definitely earned more money if I’d stayed in the medical field, but I also wouldn’t have the sense of satisfaction that comes with picking up a newspaper and seeing my name on a story.
There is an unparalleled sense of satisfaction in not only doing what you love, but also knowing you’re good at what you do.
And that doesn’t always correspond with calculating figures or running a business.
Sometimes that comes with picking up a pen and writing your deepest thoughts and feelings onto a piece of paper.
And just because some people can’t fathom a worthwhile job related to that doesn’t mean those careers don’t exist or that they aren’t as worthwhile as the more logical, better paying jobs out there.
We writers may not be finding the cure for cancer, but we are helping others find meaning through written words and thoughts by opening minds through creativity, history and expression.
In my opinion, there’s an undeniable worth to all of the arts, writing and literature included.
I urge everyone reading this column to explore literature and writing, and find the genre or medium that speaks to you.
If you feel that there’s no value or enjoyment in reading or writing, then I encourage you to keep trying. Try different types of writing: nonfiction, creative writing, poetry, or just pick up a journal and write about your day. And if you hate reading, try picking up a type of book you haven’t read before.
If you’ve tried science fiction, romance and horror and haven’t liked it, then try reading a nonfiction book about your favorite subject.
Let’s open our minds more to the world of reading and writing. You never know what possibilities you may discover.
Jacqueline Dowland is editor of the Copperas Cove Herald. Contact her at email@example.com or 254-501-7464.