Why I Changed My Major

I was happy as an English major for about two weeks, and one of those weeks was orientation. After the first week of classes I found myself feeling very bogged down by all the reading and writing. I knew it wasn’t just the regular exhaustion that comes from reading textbooks and writing essays because I was enjoying my other classes. After I posted my piece called Why I Chose the Major (and minor!) That I Did, I found myself questioning my reasons for hanging on to the English department, but my worries started a couple of weeks before that. Hold on friends, because this is going to be a long one.

During the third week, I was in my acting class when I had the (somewhat obvious) realization that I didn’t want to study anything other than drama. I was again greeted with my frustration at the lack of a theatre degree being offered at my university, and thought about switching to Film & Television. After class I went to talk to my teacher about whether or not he felt me getting a degree in English would be worthwhile. Having been an English major himself, he said he thought it would be beneficial, but I should probably look into adding a business major as well or a business minor. I thought about it, and the next week went to my advisor to tell her I wanted to switch. She suggested I speak with the business department and then said she also thought sticking with the English degree would be a good idea since I’d gain knowledge in analyzing plays. I spent the next couple of weeks trying to schedule a meeting with the business department while still writing literary analysis essays and reading Chaucer.

I ended up being unable to meet with the business department due to too many miscommunications and confusing emails. I put my plans to change my major on hold, and heeded my mother’s advice to remember that I was only in my first quarter of college and had plenty of time. I continued through the quarter, hating my major all the way. I wasn’t excited about what I was studying, and I found myself dreading going to my classes and reading the assignments. I know (and knew then) that no matter what I study there will be moments where I simply do not want to do the work or go to the class, but I also know (and knew then) that I was miserable. I watched the people in my English classes excitedly discussing the works we were reading. They were all contributing to the conversations and I couldn’t think of a single thing to add. They were all coming into class with smiles on their faces and staying back at the end to talk with the professor some more. I, on the other hand, watched the clock the whole time and couldn’t wait to leave.

In the end, there were two main moments where I knew I needed to switch my major for my own peace of mind. The first came over Thanksgiving break when I turned in an essay for my College Writing class. I didn’t receive a grade I was proud of, and was especially hurt because I had been so proud of the essay. I had worked hard on it, and didn’t know what else to do to make it better. I sat on the couch and cried about how angry with myself I was, and how all I wanted was to be out of the English department. It was a moment where I truly did not care about writing, and I had never felt that way before. The second, and bigger, moment came the week after Thanksgiving. I was trying to finish my final paper for my Survey of British and American literature class, and, while on the phone with my mom, realized that I didn’t care about Shakespeare. Okay, I did care about Shakespeare, I just didn’t want to write about him anymore. In high school, I loved talking about, reading about, and writing about Shakespeare. I used to read his plays and memorize his sonnets just for fun. But, seemingly all of a sudden, that love was gone. I simply did not care about Shakespeare the same way I used to. I was not excited about what I was studying, and I wanted out.

Before going into what my new major is and why, let’s quickly go through the list of majors I considered before: Film & Television, Business, Journalism, Communications, and Sociology. After crying on the couch to my mom about how much I disliked being and English major, I pulled up my school’s website and went through the list of majors they offered. I settled on Sociology, and a couple weeks after returning to school walked into the building for the School of Social Work & Sociology, and asked if I could speak with someone from the Sociology department. I loved the idea of studying sociology because I’ve always wanted to use theatre to help people and to better society, and figured what better way to prepare for that than to study society? I was given a business card and sent off in the right direction before walking into the office and talking with a Sociology professor for a few minutes. During our conversation, he was really selling the research aspect and also the connection Sociology has to English. He also suggested I add an English minor, which was just the opposite of what I wanted to hear. So, after the five minute meeting concluded I promptly went back to the main office and, without really thinking about why, asked if I could meet with someone from the Social Work department.

I was immediately led down a hallway and into the office where I spent half an hour meeting with the head of the department. As I talked with the professor, I felt myself growing more and more excited about my future at my school. We talked about my drama minor and how Social Work would help me accomplish my goals. Later that day, in my acting class, I was talking with a girl who happened to be a Social Work major. My teacher overheard and asked if I was thinking of switching from English, and I said I was. He asked if I had ever heard of drama therapy, and that question is how I came to write this blog post. Put simply, drama therapy is the intentional use of theatre  to help people actively and externally process their emotions, often through the use of exercises and improvisation. I spent that night researching drama therapy and realized that it is everything I have been saying I want to do without knowing there was an actual term for it. The next morning I went to the records office and officially changed my major from English to Social Work.

The new plan is to get my BSW and then go to graduate school to work towards my masters and certification in Drama Therapy. When I go back to school in January I will also be adding another minor in Psychology because every grad program requires me to have a little background in psychology. I still plan to open my own theatre where I will act, teach, and direct, but the idea of drama therapy feels right to me. I am extremely excited to head back to school and get to work on this degree, and I am even more excited to learn more about drama therapy and to eventually become a drama therapist.

Part of me was sad to leave the English major behind. I had spent so many years gearing up for it that I never stopped to consider the idea of me not even enjoying it. I didn’t like the idea of giving up something my younger self was so excited for, until I realized that my younger self always wanted my current self to be happy and being an English major wasn’t going to make that happen. I am so happy with my change of major. I am excited to learn more about what I know and learn answers to questions I don’t even know I have. But even more so, I am really looking forward to continue waking up excited.