Gracie asks: Hi. I like maths but hate English, although I do very well in both subjects. Everybody I tell about this tells me that I have to like English because it’s compulsory. What do I do?
Hi Gracie –
It’s great that you do well in both subjects. I’m not sure why anyone’s upset then, but since they are, let me talk about your words here for a second.
There are certain things in life you ‘have to’ do. You have to breathe and eat and drink, for example! You also, in order to get along in your society and family, have to do your homework, treat people with some politeness, and sometimes hold your temper in. But Gracie, I’m here to tell you that you don’t ‘have to’ like anything!
There are things I have to do. I have to obey when Handsome tells me to sit or come or stay. I have to keep myself from jumping out the car window to chase a squirrel. I have to sit politely when certain guests come to the house and not jump on them. I have to keep myself from jumping onto the table or counter and eating Handsome’s food. And I have to let Handsome give me baths, cut my nails, and take me to the veterinarian’s office.
But no one can make me like those last ones! I will sit in the bathtub while Handsome washes me off, but we both know I hate every second of it. I’ll let him cut my toenails, but we both know I’m terrified he’s going to accidentally hurt me. And I’ll let the vet poke me, prod me, stick me, and squirt things up my nose, but everyone in the room knows I’m scared and miserable!
How can anyone tell you you ‘have to’ like English! That’s nuts! I know other people who love studying English and hate math, and that’s their right. Your job is to do your work well. If you’re doing that, you’re done.
And I have an especially strong view on this. Because it’s very possible that some day you could read a book or story that completely changes your point of view. You could start to love English class; it might become your best and favorite subject. But only if you’re free to feel that. If someone’s been telling you that you have to like it, that’s going to make you more resistant to it, and you won’t even like it when you’re studying things you like!
There are times in your life when you have to keep yourself from saying what you feel; and there are other times when you should try to learn what others like about something so that you can relate to them. But please, Gracie, don’t ever let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel. That’s really the essence of who you are. And it’s a beautiful and precious thing. Your love, your interests, your passions, and yes, even your dislikes, are what make you you. Hold on to them, enjoy them, and relish them. And if they change over time, that’s fine.
And you know the funny thing, Gracie? I’ll bet if you really pay attention, you’ll find that a lot of the best books they teach in your English class are about just exactly this issue! Being true to one’s self, holding on to integrity, etc. Who knows, maybe this will lead you to like it in the end anyway!