How to Cope with Assumptions and Criticism

Minna-san, konnichi wa! 

Ok, so for this post I’m going to keep this brief. In my last post, I mentioned some of the assumptions that I got not necessarily from my goal of wanting to be an author, but mainly from my goal of wanting to be an English major. And it honestly baffles me how some people can be so narrowly focused on the prospects of English majors.

Now as a writer, I know that anyone can become a writer. No college degree necessary. No English major required.

However, I decided to pursue an English degree and have received an A.A. degree in English last Spring. I have decided to pursue a B.A. in the future, but am focusing right now on the pursuit of my writing endeavors.

I’ve even considered obtaining my Master’s so that I can teach English at a college level. But I’m not 100% sure if I do want to become an English professor as that would be my secondary goal whereas my primary goal is to become a self-published author.

However, I have considered teaching English in the past. Now, how has that consideration even crossed my mind? Well…it all started with a question.

It was a very common, albeit annoying question that I have received during my college years and it made me realize the somewhat negative, narrow-minded, and very limiting stigma revolved around the English major. Read on for more!

How to Cope with Assumptions and Criticism
Image: Pixabay/Graphic: Canva

Assumptions About My Major

Speaking from a college student’s experience, I can honestly say that when interacting with other students, the number one question you’ll most likely receive when meeting someone new is “What’s your major?”

Fair enough that a person has taken a general interest in the kind of major you want to pursue. And I have no problem with that. But it’s the follow-up to that question and the general reaction I get from most people when I tell them “I’m an English major” that drives me through the roof. 🤬

Okay. Not really. I’m mean it is really annoying and I mean REALLY annoying, but this kind of thing happens…A LOT. But I have grown accustomed to ignorant people and their trite comments. 🤭

And I’m sure that anyone with an English major, or anyone who’s a writer, or anyone who has any major or career that is the recipient of any negative or limiting stereotypes can relate. But let’s face it. This kind of thing happens to English majors and writers more often than not.

So the follow-up question to “I’m an English major” in this case would be “Oh, so are you going to be a teacher?” OR “Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher.” This sounds similar but one is asking for confirmation whereas the other is making the assumption that that is my career path. But either way, they are both annoying, trite, and limiting.

And so I follow that up (in my head) by asking “Oh, so there aren’t any other jobs for English majors to transpire towards? Does it only have to be teaching? Like seriously?”

English majors can become publishers, editors, journalists, technical writers, bloggers, and authors (of course 😊). And I am sure there are many other career opportunities for English majors to pursue. Just look it up!

Now I have gotten a ruder and just as annoying, but not as common follow-up question (more of a rude comment rather than an assumption) from one person in response to “I’m an English major.” But first, let me build up to that:

“So what’s you’re major?”

“Oh, I’m majoring in English.”

“Ewww…why?”

😲

Yes, someone did say that to me once. And I’m like, seriously???

Anyways, yes, some people do have a limiting idea of what it means to be an English major, and some people will flat out be grossed out by it. And some people will unnecessarily be apologetic for the classes you take en route to your major and won’t even consider it to be your genuine interest. Let me explain:

There was a (funny) incident where I was the crazy girl in the bookstore buying up a bunch of literature books for the laundry list of literature courses that I had signed up for. I walked up to check out with a stack of books in hand and the cashier looked at me, and the exchange is as follows:

“Wow! That is a lot of books!”

“Yeah, they’re all for my English classes.”

“Oh! I’m sorry!”

“No, I like English.”

“Oh, well at least you get to keep the books when you’re done with them.”

And it’s true, especially when it comes to novels as opposed to textbooks. I still have a bunch of them now on my bookshelf. 😁

Just thought I’d throw in something funny that happened to me. It wasn’t a horrible encounter, just awkward.

A Criticism I’ve Faced

Now, to be honest, the only negative response that I’ve received when it comes to me aspiring to be an author was when someone acted supportive to my face, then turned around and said behind my back:

“Oh, did you hear that she wants to write a book? Like she expects to be the next J.K. Rowling?”

Sounded more like a “Yeah right! Good luck with that!” kind of tone.

And this was coming from a family member saying this to another family member, to which the ladder revealed to me the former’s true feelings.

The only piece of advice that I can give when faced with assumptions and especially criticism is to not let another person’s narrow-mindedness whether it is coming from a family, friend, or stranger, cloud the way you feel about your pursuits. And it should not deter you from pursuing your goals and passions.

What keeps me going and motivated is the fact that I know that I’m not alone in this and I am sure that many people, especially those in the same creative fields as I am, have gone through the same thing that many writers and English majors face. So just know that you’re not alone.

Also, it’s good to note that other peoples’ negative opinions on whether or not they think you’re good enough to achieve your goal or whether or not they think that your goal is attainable should not prevent you from achieving your goals, but should be used to motivate you to try that much harder at achieving what many people think in their minds is unachievable.

Just remember: You don’t have to be the victim of someone else’s insecurities, or their arrogance. You can choose to be happy doing what you love to do.

So just keep pursuing your goals, live your dreams, and forget what the haters say because, in the end, the greatest pitfall of a person’s dream is not trying and living in fear of failure.

The Nice Things

I’ve also received some interest in my work when I told people that I want to write a book and they would ask me some common questions like what I write and what my book is about.

Also, when I told some people that I plan on writing a book, I’ve received some supportive words of encouragement from classmates and family friends that I should consider starting a blog so that I can share my writing with the world, which is always nice to hear people supporting me rather than tearing me down. 😊

Some Links That Might Be Helpful

Here are some links to articles that I found helpful, which mostly pertain to English majors:

The Stigma Against English Majors (The Odyssey)

Six Benefits of Being an English Major (The Odyssey)

I guess what you can take away from this post is that I am not immune — no writer or English major is ever immune — to the negative stereotypes and criticisms associated with a career or educational path that opens up creative doorways. Many creative writers — not all — but some do have a degree in English, Literature, or Creative Writing, but many people limit career opportunities to nothing beyond what they believe is attainable, such as teaching and journalism.

I hope that you enjoyed reading my mini-rant post on some of the assumptions and criticisms that I’ve faced when it comes to my major and writing pursuits.

If you would like to share your thoughts and experiences on the matter, then please leave a comment below.

And if you want to stay up-to-date on new posts, then be sure to follow me or any of my social media links below.

I will be back with another post next Friday at 10:30 AM PST. So stay tuned!!!

So it’s your turn! Have you faced any criticism, assumptions, or stereotypes in regard to your major or career pursuits? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to chat about it.

(❁´◡`❁)

Until next time, ja mata ne,

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How to Cope with Assumptions and Criticism

2 thoughts on “How to Cope with Assumptions and Criticism

  1. Excellent post. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with that. I often got “You want to be a writer? Really?” And from family members well it was just a “phase” because it’s not something to pursue and most of my family never ask about my writing at all so I don’t tell them I’m published.

    I used all negativity to motivate me and have done it with everything… those who thought I couldn’t run a successful business, study for a degree. I put them all in my rear view mirror and drive forward with gusto.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have a really good point. Negativity and criticism should be used to motivate people into pursuing their goals, not deter them.

      Same. I don’t think my family really cares if I write, but I don’t normally talk about my writing with them. I am actually not super open with my writing, until now, which is probably why I haven’t faced significant criticism from people, especially strangers as I am usually private when it comes to my goals and don’t open up too easily.

      Liked by 1 person

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