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Yes, I have an English degree. Please don’t faint.

I’ll never forget the moment that made me proud to be a writer.

While sitting in the back of an Uber driver’s 2005 four-door sedan, I’d begun to nod off as we made our way north of Atlanta to drop me off for a work event.

It was 7:30 a.m., yet the Sun had barely crept up over the horizon. Though still a bit lethargic from last night’s lack of sleep, due to studying for my dreaded accounting exam, and my tumultuous love affair with procrastination in studying for that accounting exam, I didn’t mind the early rising.

There was something mysterious, yet pure about the darkness of that crisp Atlanta morning that sent my mind into creative overdrive. Maybe it was the way the frost from the cold appeared as bright slivers on my window. Or perhaps how the lights that glistened out of the windows of the buildings we passed, mimicked the menagerie of golden plaques hanging on the walls of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

But, it wasn’t this magic that made me proud to be a writer.

No, no. It’s what had occurred right before this moment.

Enter the other Uber passenger we picked up before heading to drop me off.

Let’s call her Volta.

She struck up a casual conversation with the Uber driver and myself. She was new to Atlanta, Nigerian, and majored in Biology at the same university I attended.

“So, what’s your major?” she asked, seeming genuinely curious.

I smiled, “I’m an English major, with a concentration in Creative Writing.”

Suddenly, her gaze of genuine curiosity turned to that of disgust and disappointment. You know that look you have after you watch a terrible cinematic portrayal of your favorite book? Yes, that was the one. It’s a look nearly anyone who studies any liberal art is more than likely familiar with.

Sensing the turn in her demeanor, I quickly mentioned that I was also a Marketing minor. Her expression, still somewhat twisted, showed some signs of relief.

“Oh, good. You have a business minor,” she replied.

I shook my head.

There were so many ways I could have replied to this:

Like how a liberal arts major probably edited that expensive microbiology book sitting on her lap.

Or how a liberal arts major is probably facilitating that mandatory company workshop she had been going on about.

Or how majoring in English taught me how to think, not what to think.

Or that the very art she was condemning was the same one she had to understand so that could study Biology. My art is the gateway to your art: have some loyalty.

Or how of course, Business was important, but it wasn’t something I was passionate about.

But at that moment, unfortunately, this “Master of English” was speechless.

We’d dropped her off, and I knew I’d never see her again, but I did know it wouldn’t be the last time my major of choice would be called into question.

From that day forth, a few things changed:

  • I dropped the minor. It was nothing more than a flotation device that saved me when I found myself drowning in the condescending remarks from “The Vocationals.” I’d had some experience in Marketing already, and there was (and still is) a wealth of free/inexpensive resources, including workshops and courses I could utilize if it were a skill I wanted to grow (I was in the FinTech capital of the South, after all)!
  • I started to surround myself with mentors. I couldn’t be told it was “impossible” if there were people who’d done it (I had a whole department of them, for crying out loud)!
  • I found my niche. I started to put my creative mind to work. As English majors, we’re taught to be detailed-oriented, to think critically, to edit, and always be willing to grow – these are all valuable, transferable skills that you’re learning while doing what you love.
  • I started to believe in myself. It is imperative that you’re confident in what you know and vocal about what you don’t. You will always be a student to something or someone. Take the opportunity to acquire knowledge and perfect your craft seriously. You’ve got this!

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