Shannon Hawkins is currently a senior at the University of Central Florida earning a bachelor’s degree in English- Creative Writing and a minor in Anthropology. She’s a native to Orlando, but counts down the days until she can return to Europe. She’s visited Italy, France, and Spain; and spent four months in London studying abroad. She also has a crazy obsession with cats.
The number one question I get asked when I say I’m an English major is, “are you going to be a teacher?” That also happens to be my biggest pet peeve. Why does a degree in English suddenly limit me to teaching? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I have zero patience and would definitely let the kids take advantage of me. Who needs homework and tests anyway? Am I right?
English is about as broad as it can get, which is primarily why I choose it. I was in my second semester of sophomore year and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I was a Criminal Justice major for about three seconds before my favorite television show convinced me I needed to be an Anthropologist. That lasted quite a bit of time, but then I was told I would probably have to do field work in rural South America or Arica before or after I graduated, which immediately brought up my distaste for bugs and cold showers. Luckily, I had already taken eighteen credits worth of classes, so I made it my minor instead.
The key to finding the right major is knowing who you are. After that, it’s easy. Your whole life you are constantly being prepared for the next stage of schooling. Elementary school prepares you for middle school, middle school for high school, and high school for college. You get so focused on just pushing through to the next step, that you forget to bring yourself along for the ride. Suddenly you’re in an apartment at university trying to make a decision about a career you’re going to have for the rest of your life, and you have no idea where to begin. Cue sleepless nights, crying into your best friend’s shoulder, and lots of depressing music. Fun fact: I’m still discovering things about myself I didn’t know before. Against popular opinion, you don’t have to have a ten-year plan. There’s a wonderful quote from Nilo Cruz’s play Anna in the Tropics that says, “something as simple as crossing out your days before you live them can have an effect on your mind. It can cause apprehension, anxiety, and even despair” (57). Sound familiar? Don’t forget to live your days, not just plan them.
You need to think of what truly matters to you. What’s going to make you happy? What won’t you mind doing for the rest of your life? Photography? Building airplane models? Writing? I never thought I could really do anything with my love for writing. I was scared, so it took me a year and a half to find the courage to make Creative Writing a serious career choice. I had to be honest with myself. Don’t think about your parents, or a television show, or even your best friend. You need to ask yourself what you like and what you want. It’s okay to be a bit selfish. Everything after that will happen naturally. Don’t let clichés or stereotypes scare you off. I am not going to be a teacher; thank you for asking.
Cruz, Nilo. Anna in the Tropics. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2003. Kindle.