Saturday, December 3, 2011

PLS Pride

This video is a little old but I'd like to share it with you.

If you read this blog, you know how proud I am of my major. I describe it as my family. It's one of the first things I mention in my self-introduction. In person, I talk about it all the time.

Why am I so obsessed with my major? You know, that's a good question.

I didn't plan to be a PLS major when I came to college. I didn't even know what PLS was. In fact, I planned to study English and Spanish literature, and I declared as an English major in the first semester of my freshman year.

But on the March for Life in January that year, I had a short little conversation that lit a spark in my mind. I was in DC, coincidentally enough, staying at the very same church where I now go for Adoration.

I was talking to a guy I had just met, a new friend of my sister's. He was a year older than us and very sweet.

"What are you planning to major in?" he asked us.

"Business," said Lillian. I still don't really understand why she decided to study business. She didn't stick with it, obviously.

"English," I said.

"I don't know about Business, but English..." he said, half to himself. Then he turned to me and asked, "Have you thought about doing PLS?"

It was my first time experiencing the fierce PLS loyalty and the constant efforts of its members to recruit. Heady stuff for an indecisive freshman. He told me a little bit about it, and I left intrigued but unconvinced.

Soon after that came the Majors Fair. Every department at the university set up a pamphlet-laden booth and sent professors to recruit new freshmen.

I went to Majors Night with my high school friend Claire. We were both pretty sure what we would choose - English for me, medicine for her - but were willing to flirt with other options. You know, let the other disciplines try to woo us intellectually, that sort of thing.

One thing really stood out to me that night. Friendly professors stood behind every booth, prepared to answer questions about their fields of study. But one table didn't have any professors at it. Students stood at the PLS booth - not behind it but in front of it, around it, eagerly talking and answering questions and distributing pamphlets. It was clear that the PLS students owned their major in a way that other students did not. I mean, students from other majors weren't even there.

I responded to the PLS students' efforts by assuming they all must be insane.

"Woah, Claire, look at all those crazy PLS kids!" I said in excitement. "Oh my gosh let's go talk to them! They look like nuts. We can pretend we're interested in PLS!"

"I don't really want to pretend," said Claire, who is in med school and is a lot more sensible than I am.

"No come on, it'll be hilarious," I urged. "Look, that guy even has a piercing!"

She was extremely reluctant but I dragged her along. I don't remember if I ever talked to the PLS kids that night, however, because as soon as I got to the booth they dropped something in my hands.

It was a list of all the books PLS majors have to read. I looked down at it and scanned the names. That was the moment when my life began to change.

Teresa of Avila. Augustine. Don Quixote. Socrates. Pride and Prejudice. It was every single book I had ever wanted to read in high school, but didn't know if I would ever find time for. And you know what a book nut I am.

"Wow..." I breathed. "Claire... look at this book list."

"Um, that's a lot of books. No thanks."

I walked back to Badin in a trance while trying to figure out a logical equation in my head.

I really want to read all those books, I thought. If I do PLS, I'll get to read all those books.

But there was a catch. I don't want to do PLS.

I could tell that something wasn't adding up. I've never been very good at logic, though, so I decided to postpone thinking about it in true Scarlett O'Hara fashion.

But PLS kept sneaking into my life.

I was in two English classes at the time, neither of which impressed me much. In particular, I didn't like how randomly our reading assignments were chosen. It was essentially just whatever the professor felt like teaching. Yes, we got Shakespeare's Sonnets, but we also got some obscure modern novels that I didn't much care for.

I kept daydreaming about that PLS book list.

I heard about a PLS info session in CoMo, right next to my dorm. I went and listened to a few alumni speak.

"I majored in Theology and PLS," said one girl in particular. "I studied theology because I wanted to know what it means to be Catholic. And I studied PLS because I wanted to know what it means to be human."

What it means to be human. I never forgot that.

The perfect storm raged on all semester. Day by day, it became clearer that English wasn't for me. One by one, each of my doubts about joining PLS were stilled.

Every little thing that happened that spring pointed me toward being a PLS major.

Without getting too carried away, I think it was a little bit like what it must be like to figure out that someone is the person you're supposed to marry.

Finally, the deadline to apply for PLS rolled around. I applied and was accepted.

Now, four years later, I understand the cult-like aspect of PLS that arises from having so many classes with the same small group of people. I understand the absurd loyalty and the desire to tell everyone you meet about it.

I don't think PLS is perfect. In fact, I could go through and give you a long list of its flaws.

I'd like to say I never looked back, but I did. Even now, I sometimes wonder if maybe I should have studied English, or Anthropology, or even Psychology or Political Science.

I still think PLSers are crazy, myself included.

But for all that, I'm so proud that I chose it. I'm glad that my flighty 18-year-old self had the sense to see that this was something I should stick with. That this was the best possible fit for me.

When all is said and done, I'm glad I did PLS.

No comments:

Post a Comment