Dr. Stresslove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My English Degree

Dr. Stresslove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My English Degree

By: Elmira Bahrami Majd
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It was my first semester, and all I could think was that I’d finally made it. I couldn’t wait to be the organized, ambitious, multitasking-android my parents and friends never knew existed. Yes! This was going to be my year. As a first step towards my successful future, I selected a variety of courses that I supposed would translate well to the 21st century workplace, like business or pre-med. While I recall a twinge of disappointment at having to skip over courses that sounded more interesting, I reassured myself about my all-knowing goal of getting a “useful” degree.

Once enrolled, I had great hopes that I would enjoy my classes and hit my academic stride. As the semester wore on, however, the course load kept adding up, and lectures didn’t excite me with a love of learning. Instead, they were the equivalent of bathroom duty at a Chipotle Grill. If I had any composure left after those, exams were even worse. I was dispassionate, and I didn’t feel in control of my life.

What would any self-respecting, totally lost university student do? I took some time, along with several bags of Lays chips, to answer tough questions: Who was I? What made me feel inspired? I was able to generate some answers, which in turn helped me to take action and make change.

What I realized during this time was that the meaningful and motivational moments I’d had in my life were related to experiences I’d had in my English classes. Both the subject matter and the teachers brought me joy - poetry, medieval literature, creative writing, I loved it all. This introspective stage paid off for me: I realized I was a total English geek. I was thrilled to reconnect with this intrinsic side of myself, the one that had been born of my Persian father’s poetic verses at the dinner table growing up, the one who felt at my most authentic when reading, analyzing and writing.

As time went on, I became immersed in the English Department, and I began enjoying my studies. I still couldn’t help but wonder … What could I do with an English degree?

Like a shining beacon, “The English Network” mentorship program was promoted in class one day. The program matches current and graduated students with alumni from the English department, so that they can connect about any questions they may have related to their career or education. While exploring the site, I was surprised to find graduate profiles in sectors from environmental health to positions in law.

I found a great deal of hope through making connections with other students who had followed these diverse career paths. Suddenly, searching for career opportunities as an English major seemed less daunting than ever before, and I concluded that it was not the promise of a specific, in-demand job that ensured success, but rather, the ability to find enriching opportunities that both foster and put to use my own set of skills. 

Now that I’m a proud graduate with a BA in English, I can say that I happily embrace my passions without fear -- even if I’m not entirely sure what waits ahead of me.


I have since discovered that these kinds of opportunities are available to many different degrees and areas of specialty. It’s never too late to start discovering your career, your major, your aspirations and a network to support you. You can find hope too, as long as you trust yourself and keep an open mind. If you are not sure about what you want to do with your life, take a moment and reflect on what makes you feel passionate, alive, or joyful, and most of all, don’t be afraid to learn more and to act on your discoveries.   

Image Credit: Pexels

About Author

Elmira is an English graduate pursuing her love of literature in a Masters program this fall at SFU. She continues to make connections through The English Network, and wishes to encourage others who wonder about their own path. 

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Posted on June 13, 2018