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22 Things only an English Major Will Understand

22 Things only an English Major Will Understand

English major is one of the most difficult fields in the area of Humanities. It has been argued that English is one of the most complicated major among the other fields. Why? You may think of the English language when you hear about this area of study. However, English studies much more than just grammar. They study everything that relates to all fields such as understanding literature, critical thinking, writing, public speaking, and even education.

English majors compose the majority of students who suffer severe caffeine addiction and severe insomnia; especially, compared to the other fields. These students are also some of the most misunderstood on campus. They are often dismissed and mocked as being nerdy or the weird group.

Here are 22 things that only English majors will understand.

1. A complete silence is much appreciated.

English majors need enough time to think about what they’re reading. They need to hear their own thoughts. They often choose to read in silence. You might see them in the library hunched over a desk full of books, or maybe even sleeping on an opened text.  They love thinking, but libraries can be so peaceful, it’s hard not to think of a little snooze.

2. Libraries and coffee shops are the best spots.

Rather than going to arcades and wasting time playing games, or partying the whole night away at a bar, English majors would rather go to libraries or coffee shops to read (and get another does of caffeine).

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3. Everything has a deeper meaning.

As an English major, they understand that every word, color, object, gesture showed from anything has a meaning. For example, “the light post turns on and off when you pass by”. For any other majors, it can be interpreted simply as it is. The light post turns on and off. That’t it. However, the English student might wonder why. They may think, when I walk by the light post must detect motion. The English Major, much like an engineer, wonders about why things happen.

4. Over-thinking is a habit.

Because of their experience with analytic linguistics, English majors tend to over-analyze behaviors of people, to the point that it becomes habitual.

5. Consider themselves as “pseudo-intellectuals.

English majors have the ability to explain things that will impress people, though they are just talking in circles and repeating what they have researched. Sometimes they talk about the most nonsense topic without letting the audience notice it is actually just gibberish. The listener thinks the English major must know what they’re talking about.

6. Handling 120% pressure is quite a norm.

Writing a 15-page analysis about their professor’s movie, hundreds of impromptu speeches, reading a 150-page literature book are quite normal for them. They are still able to make it with less time. It’s like that saying, practice makes perfect.

7. William Shakespeare and Jane Austen are their peers.

Because they delve so deeply into Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, or Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, the student feels like the know the actual person. Thus, they consider them their peer.

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8. Watching professors’ favorite movie is a hobby.

This is admittedly true. So, when you want to have a good grade, knowing their professor’s favorite movie is the best thing they should do. This sounds funny but it is true.

9. “Intellectual admiration” to their professors is common.

Having an intellectual professor in front of them is the best reason why they should attend that class.

10. Feeling discomfort to sell a book is usual.

Their subjects are just interconnected. So, they don’t want to sell their good old book unless they are done with university studies.

11. Sparknotes is their best friend

It’s too difficult to analyze plenty of literary works from the Medieval Ages or even in the early Renaissance Era in such a small time-frame. So, to help understanding the text in the fastest way, Sparknotes is their best help!

12. Familiarizing IPA is a must.

This includes reading a text with proper enunciation and pronunciation, with complete consideration to the pauses and stops of each sentence.

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13. Having personal or career crisis is frequent.

In the latter, they are usually in great frustration whether they wanted to be a publisher or a novelist, a playwright or a screenwriter, or any other discipline. Sometimes they realize a little late that they took this major for the understanding it provides, rather than money. English majors recieve less payment or unemployment compared to other fields.

14. Inability to understand simple stuff annoys them.

It sounds horrible, but it is true. They are dominant in some ways.

15. Know the Anglo-Saxon tradition of the English Language and World Literature.

They know that Anglo-Saxon ancestors created the English language and it’s written form. While other cultures each developed their own languages, English places an emphasis on a varied vocabulary to explain our inner emotions.

16. They panic when the library is under construction.

Well, library is their second home, so it is understandable. Where are they supposed to take a nap.

17. Being so meticulous all time.

It can be observed as arrogance, but really an English major can’t turn off their training. When they meet someone who speaks English poorly, they can’t help but comment with a correction. The same thing happens online with poor grammar in social networking sites. They expect everyone to speak on the same level, as their fellow English major.

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18. Proofreading is their job.

Whether they are paid or not, they are frequently asked to proofread writing regardless of the length.

19. Having a favorite spot in the university is a must.

They will be enraged when an undergraduate occupies these spots! This is their favorite place to think and to read their favorite book while enjoying the view they see, how dare you sit in their spot.

20. In general, they love Europe so much.

They believe that when they visit these places anywhere in Europe, they will be like their most-admired writers. The feel like they are entering a new world, like they are literally walking through history.

21. The new scent of a book is addictive.

This is one of the most observable behavior of an English major. They love the smell of a new book in the shelf.

22. Good quality of pen is required.

  1. Whenever they jot down notes, they need to see a good pen in their hand. They feel like the pen somehow inspires all these ideas. On the other hand, they get distracted or irritated when they don’t have one. A good pen is a comfort object for an English major.
  2. They may be misinterpreted, but in general, English majors are the most understanding people because they know how to weigh things before they judge. Just like when they read a poem, they cannot just say that the poem is badly written, they must first deal with the underlying meaning on it. They don’t just see on what is on the surface. English students try and look past the external, and try to appreciate what is going on internally. They are even the most romantic and the most caring among any other else! Know them and you’ll see! It mus be all the Shakespeare poetry they read.

Featured photo credit: Memphis CVB via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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