Graduating as an English Major: An Open Letter to Myself Right Now

By Therese Masotta

(Photo/Therese Masotta)
(Photo/Therese Masotta)

To The Current Me,

This morning I woke up with you, like I always do, and it was early and you were just as confused as you were the night before you went to sleep, and everything seemed surreal as it always does. It’s the last week of classes and we’re about to graduate.

As an English Major.

Today you braced yourself for the inevitable question that you might receive four times before the day closes: “so what are you going to do after you graduate?” The question-asker will stand there with a big smile on his/her face that starts to fade as you shrug your shoulders (I find your answer is better received if you lift your hands up, do a little “I don’t know!” dance, and make sure you’re smiling the entire time). “Do you, like, have a job or something?” is the next question that comes.

And then you have to find a way to explain your objectives in five minutes, because this question asker is probably a passer-by. This is the most difficult part of the conversation, because you want to sound intelligent and prepared, but you actually have no idea what you’re doing. Your philosophy on life comes in handy here, because it sounds intelligent and doesn’t require a solid plan to carry out. Use your inspirational, adventurous outlook on life to charm the question-asker, and most importantly shut him or her up.

You know there’s no reason to worry, though. English graduates come back to UConn all the time with successful jobs. It’s extra exciting because they’re all really, really happy. You sit in these talks they run thinking, “That’s going to be ME one day!” because you know you’re being educated by a supportive UConn community who is definitely setting you up for success. You know you have the drive within you to create, work hard, and end up in New York City fresh off your friend’s couch going to a job that will make you enough money one day. You’re going to be just fine.

But I’ve noticed all those inspirational post-grads only talk about their success and the couch they did indeed live on. When they get to the hard parts, they laugh and widen their eyes saying, “OH yeah, that was a tough time.”

So maybe now you’ve figured out why I’m writing this letter to you, current Me, an English Major standing on the edge of graduation, arms flailing, ready to embrace the impending fall. You know you are going to be fine eventually, but you can’t think about the future because you’re about to fly into the real world at maximum velocity.

I’m here to tell you that you already are fine. Not just because you don’t know what you’re doing (which is exciting and free!) but mostly because you are more talented than you think. It’s so easy to feel inadequate when you don’t have a solid plan or answer for the question-askers of the world, when there isn’t just one job that you’re trained to do, or when you feel under trained for all the jobs you can do. Which is why I’ve got two main questions for you.

If you’ve made it this far, you must have an adequate GPA, even if it isn’t stunning. Can you remember all the classes you’ve taken? Yes, some of them were terribly boring, but if they were required, they were so for a reason. Look at how much you know about literature and whatever your minor may have been! That’s a wealth of knowledge.

Next we have the image-building question. How do you want people to see you? Sure, you don’t have complete control over this, but it’s important to have a goal or mission statement in mind. This can be easily regulated by which books you like to talk about and what you say about them. If you’re going to share the truth that you actually dislike the Harry Potter series, be prepared with a damn good reason. If you’re going to adore the Scarlet Letter, you better know why. “It’s just really good (or bad) writing,” is never, ever a valid reason.

Use these two bits to propel you into the world and keep you afloat during your tough time. It’s terribly exciting not knowing what you’re going to do. In this way, everything becomes an adventure. And I can’t wait to see the strength you gain from it.

Sincerely,

Your Current Self

Therese Masotta is a senior English major/Psychology minor with a concentration in Creative Writing. She is the social media coordinator and member of the creative nonfiction panel for the Long River Review.

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