And it’s not the usual forever unemployed and homeless nonsense. I recently had an interaction with someone in which I told her that my major is Comparative Literature. She responded with something along the lines of: “Oh, how fun! I took some Comp Lit classes when I went to Cal and they were the most fun classes I took.” I’m just going to gloss right over the potential for the whole studying literature is a joke thing, because I don’t even bother arguing with people about that anymore.
However, her use of the word “fun” really struck me, because while I was busy plastering on a smile and nodding vigorously like some sort of manic Drinking Bird, my internal monologue went, “Fun?! No, it’s the worst. It’s horrible.” So began my fixation on just what precisely was so terrible about studying literature.
Perhaps the main reason is over-investment. We’ve all probably gotten the snide remark about how we should know what something means because we study literature. And this
is where some of the misery arises from.
When you do poorly or when you don’t meet your own expectations, it’s insanely disappointing, because, let’s be honest, you are probably not studying literature for the shiny job prospects or the overwhelming respect from your peers. This is your passion, your work, your life. This is what you are supposed to be good at, this is what you love.
There is this seemingly constant, nagging anxiety which can be difficult to shake. But when you do—when you think about your favorite book, or an incredible quote, or just the terrifying beauty of words and the capacity they have to create and destroy—you remember: I’m home.