By Heather Newlin, Chattanooga, Tenn.–
On the inside cover of my planner is a quoted faux conversation from an essay I read this semester. My creative writing class read an essay called, “The Future Has An Ancient Heart,” written by Cheryl Strayed in what was her anonymous advice column for the Rumpus, an online literary magazine.
“I hope when people ask what you’re going to do with your English and/or creative writing degree you’ll say: Continue my bookish examination of the contradictions and complexities of human motivation and desire; or maybe just: Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters. And then smile very serenely until they say oh.”
I wrote this in my planner because, one, it’s hilarious- what a terribly strange conversation that would be. Two- I want to always remember that there is immense value in accruing a right-brain education and carrying it with you.
Regardless of which degree path you choose, there are going to be a lot of things that you won’t learn in school. To an ambitious extent, it will be left up to you to continue to continue to expand your education throughout your life. Everyone is going to graduate without specific knowledge that other people have. It is tempting for all of us to feel ill-equipped and unprepared.
That being said, studying the arts and humanities is a sneaky way to becoming extremely well-rounded. Reading makes you empathetic and understanding, writing makes you articulate, and observing art exposes you to other people’s experiences and cultures.
I think our world has a huge need for people studying the arts and humanities. Social justices and human rights are huge issues in our societies today, and the more we experience life the way other people are expressing it, the more we will know enough to be able to make positive change.
The humanities equip us to work and to live: they motivate us, they inspire us, and they teach us. They change our world.
No matter what degree you pursue, remember to always carry with you all that you learn (not just from school, not just what you’re explicitly academically taught), if only because it matters.