Overanalyzing and English

Overanalyzing has always been my curse. I’ve always looked for deeper meanings behind conversions, events, and interactions. I struggle with not taking things at face value. Someone says one thing, and I spiral into an inner dialogue about what was meant behind it, how it was said, and why it was said.

It’s so frustrating to live this way.

I always wondered why my brain operates this way, but I never got a clear reason.

However, I might have gotten a clue the other day in my one English class. My professor is one I had a few years ago and we didn’t jive too well back then. However, this semester she is becoming one of my favorite professors, along with a few others.

We had just wrapped up Ulysses (well, most of it, anyway) and we were discussing our final thoughts on the book. James Joyce was so innovative (and frustrating, if I’m being honest) who saw and wrote about the world very differently than anyone before him.

As most of us were complaining about him, our professor asked an interesting question.

Do you think because you are English majors, you view and experience the world differently?”

At first I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant. But then a classmate brought up how she constantly feels a few steps behind everyone because she’s trying to figure out what a certain conversation or event meant.

Well, that sure sounded and felt like me.

It never occurred to me to connect my overanalyzing to my aptitude in English.

As an English major, I am taught to search out deeper meanings in literature as well as in any form of communication. I assumed that I just picked up that skill easily and that was what led me to pursue English. But perhaps my tendency of overanalyzing is why I relate so deeply with the study of English.

I certainly have my gripes with teachers pushing students too hard to find deeper meanings in something simple, such as why curtains are a certain color. There isn’t always a deeper, hidden meaning and it can be very frustrating to put so much time into that. But frequently there is a lesson to be learned that isn’t spelled out in black and white. You have to look for it. You engage with the author and enter their world.

Literature exists to teach us about life but it is also meant to be enjoyed. 

I think that’s what I need to remember. Sometimes I need to be searching for deeper meanings and lessons in life, but other times I just need to enjoy life as it is.

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