When did you know what you wanted to study or what you wanted to do? For most of us it has changed or evolved over the years. When I was in high school there were specific teachers I bonded with. These were my English teachers, history teachers, and my political science teacher. I happened to get A+s fairly easily in these courses, too. As a result, when I was picking colleges, I planned to major in English, history, or political science. My teachers loved my papers (analysis papers and research papers). The exercise of compiling and developing papers was something that made my spirit soar.
So there I was in my freshman English class in college. We were reading Homer’s Iliad. Our assignment was to write some kind of analysis or compare and contrast paper about it. I wrote it up and we handed it in on a Wednesday. We got our papers back on Friday. Mine did not have a grade on it. It just said See Me at the top. In my vanity, I assumed she wanted to see me because she was going to tell me she was so impressed with my paper that I could declare my major early. At my college, you were not permitted to declare your major until you completed your core requirements at the end of sophomore year. Instead, Miss Noel said to me “is English your native language or do you come to it late in life?” Then she told me to head to the bookstore, get a remedial English book, re-do the paper, and hand it in on Monday. Shocked and saddened, I did precisely that. On Wednesday, I handed the paper in again. On Friday she handed it back to me. It said, “much improved. F”. I knew then and there that the department would not permit me to be an English major. I was lucky to get a D in her class at the end of the semester.
The second semester, I fared no better. The second semester I took poetry analysis. Although the poems were bursting with lovely imagery, metaphor, meter, and more, I was hopelessly tongue-tied at writing the papers. I received a C only because the sweet professor in that class took pity on me and rewarded my work ethic, as my talent for poetry analysis was nonexistent. My professor told me so on a regular basis, and so did my classmates.
My political science and history courses went no better, unfortunately. It was all such a shock to me. I knew that these majors would not be allowed. You see, you had to demonstrate mastery of the introductory courses to get into the sophomore classes. I considered majoring in elementary education, because I truly loved to teach But at the time, the new teachers were having a tough time getting jobs. At that point I realized that if I majored in business and went into management, I would be researching and teaching. That is what I loved. In that department, my practical mind and idealism dovetailed nicely. I excelled. The courses were challenging. I suppose that could mean I was far less intelligent than I had given myself credit for being in my pre-college years. Or it could mean that when you find your niche, you excel.
The difference between high school and college was surely a shock to my system. To this day, writing a book review or any kind of literature analysis is a bit beyond me. Other than being truly impressed by the talent of the writer, I am clueless as to what to say. The same can be said when I react to artistic things (photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, quilting, needle craft, etc.) Again, I generally love what I see and think it is beautiful. But I really have nothing to add to the discussion at all. Does that mean I shouldn’t have studied or majored in it? I have no idea. I do know it would have been every bit as problematic for me in those majors, as it was in the English department.
On the other hand, when it comes to business strategy, job procedures, and mathematical problem solving, I am full of things to say. Why do you suppose that is? I did major in business, and minored in math and humanities. But the humanities courses were things like opera appreciation, art history, architectural history, those kinds of things. In picking a business career path, I couldn’t go with public accounting, because frankly I was NOT a good accountant for that realm. I loved creating the records, and tracking the expenses and inventory. I cared about training people in industry, coming up with better procedures, and tracking inventory.
But after a few years of that, I married and my career was taking care of home, hearth, and family. Many many years later, I returned to tutoring. I had volunteered as a tutor for years, but due to my husband’s unemployment at the time, I decided to try to find a paying gig. I am now well into my 4th year of doing this and am beyond busy. Why does this work? The students I take on all have a common thread. They need inspiration, guidance, and training in life strategy. They need to now how to manage their education and set some goals. Yes they also need help in subject areas. Most of the time they need help in math. I feel safe in math. I am terrific at finding ways to explain it so they can overcome their difficulties. Granted, I am not doing the high-powered stuff like calculus and physics. Instead, I mostly tutor pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and algebra 2. Math feels safe. Cost accounting did. Financial accounting did not. It is an interesting distinction.
So how did I pick? I realized that in order to shine and grow, I needed to feel competent. I needed to know I add something to the discussion. Although I loved to read, and to communicate my thoughts and ideas in presentations and papers, I did not have enough to add to that discussion at that point in time. Not only that, but professors and classmates alike were more than happy to point out my lack of competence. Although this made me want to improve, I could not get to that level.Time was ticking and I did not make the deadline for improvement in college. I had to pick a major that I could excel in.
These days, the blogging world is so full of wonderful writers. They commandeer their keyboards and develop characters and dialogue. They write book reviews that make me nod and say “YES”! They write poetry that leaves me speechless and moves me to tears. They take photographs that make my eyes open so big I am surprised my eyes don’t fall right out of my head. But I frequently cannot think of anything intelligent to say. I mean how many times can I credibly say the equivalent of Roger Ebert’s “one thumb up”? So perhaps my role is to just at times be a silent observer in those realms. Maybe that really is the purpose of the old “like” button.
Then I realized that perhaps that isn’t my role. It is hard to convey how much I appreciate the variety of blogs I follow. The ones that offer encouragement in taking care of myself (exercise, diet, outlook, prayer). The ones who create beautiful things. the ones who offer scripture analysis….
It is a big blogging world. I have much to discover. When you began to blog did you pick something that was like your major or career path? Did you evolve and change your blog focus? I have meandered around with mine.
Mainly I comment on my own path in life and pray that folks that need something interesting or encouraging to read will feel as though they are sitting on a dock, dangling their feet in the water while watching the sunrise/sunset. There is something to be said for being a hopeful companion. That is all I have ever been in this life. As a hopeful companion and comfortable dock by the lake/sea/river, I do hope to perhaps share my hopes and heartaches, dreams, goals, and experiences. For it is in the sharing that we can be renewed. It is in the giving that we strengthen and are strengthened.
If I was to go back to college these days, I might have also taken some courses in designing curriculum for various learning styles and/or disabilities. I have always been irresistibly drawn to finding ways to make it possible for people to learn and succeed. I am always researching that topic and reading about it. That was true in the business world, the home, and in my tutoring life too. I stubbornly (or optimistically) believe that everyone can grow and learn. That brings me fact to face once again with why I was unable to find the key to the English major. You see, I realized that I had run out of ways to analyze the writings of other writers. Nor could I create works of fiction (characters and dialogue). Despite the fact that I had read a zillion books (mostly fiction)–I just couldn’t do it! Or perhaps I didn’t want to or wasn’t meant to!
So to the creative friends that I have—who inspire me with their talent and knowledge, I say “WOW! Great job”. And now you know why I was not an English major.