English class did not teach me how to write a good essay.

After ninth grade (the year in which I joined public school, and the one year that I didn’t take English), the class changed. Contrary to what I’d expected, it did not focus on the forms and structure of the English language. It did not teach me how to create an argument and back it up with evidence. It did not teach me the structure of a novel or a paragraph. Fortunately, I’d already learned all that in my middle school English classes. But the class did not teach me, in short, anything that I had expected to learn in a course that called itself “English.”

A more accurate name for the class than “English,” which I would die on a hill arguing, would be “Art Analysis”. In the class, we examined countless forms of creative expression, from Shakespeare to sculptures, and studied what they said about the world and how.

What the class-that-called-itself-English did teach me during that time, however, was that anything can be art. That anyone can create art. Through that class, and through many, many other processes and moments of pain, confusion, and joy, I learned that I am an artist.

Not just a writer, a wordsmith. Those are artists indeed, but I learned that I am an artist in many senses of the word.

I fold paper into birds. That is art.

I draw words and shapes on their wings. That is art.

I doodle spirals and stars and dots in the corners of papers. That is art.

I combine every form of art. I mix and shape them into something new. I create things formed out of words, folds, colors, shapes, and my own heart, every broken side and piece of it.

And that, I think, is the greatest art of all.

So I’m grateful for English class. Not because it taught me anything about English itself. But because it showed me that the things I create have value, and because it indirectly encouraged me to create more.