Fellow liberal arts majors, I hope you can relate. I feel insufferable, I think I know a little too much about our world, and I think no one else cares.
Growing up, I felt like I was always interested in the things that annoyed my friends and family. You know, politics, the environment, art, all the “boring” things no one usually wants to talk about over a peaceful family dinner.
In high school, I loved my history classes and with my insistent ADHD, I grew increasingly attached to certain ideas, events, and time periods. I hyper-focused on them, dedicated lengthy time and energy to topics that other people found incredibly boring. For a while it was Christianity and other world religions, next came the Russian Revolution of 1917, then Communism, throw in a little segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, and in college, I began the obsession with social movements. May it be the French Revolution, the Abolitionist Movement, American Slavery, or the Palestinian First Intifada, I get hooked to these things to the point that I know the minute details.
As a history major, I’ve been taught to heavily research, question, and analyze everything. All my sources must be peer-reviewed. I must check the sources list and the journal the articles are from. Who’s the author? Are they reliable? What are their biases? Following all the research I conduct for my classes, I have developed a wealth of knowledge that I absolutely must talk about, to the definite delight of my peers (sarcasm). So, combine an obsessive ADHD mind and way too much information, and what you get (if we’re being positive) is an awesome party trick and a human dictionary that comes in handy when needed. But really, it feels like I just become an exhausting friend who doesn’t know when to shut up.
Often, I find myself excitedly telling my friends about all the interesting things I’ve learned and all the things I find so important. I ramble and ramble and ramble until I’m out of breath and maybe a little sweaty, only to suddenly notice that they aren’t interested. They’ve spaced out, maybe the topics I’m talking about have flown over their head or they just don’t know about x, y, and z, and I start to feel nervous and awkward. It’s not that I want to show off what I know, I am just genuinely excited to learn and understand our world, and the realization that maybe other people aren’t interested subconsciously hurts me and makes me question why I like the things I like.
Additionally, with a heightened awareness about the world, information overload is increasingly likely. After reading and reading for hours about the terrible, and sometimes wonderful, things human beings have done to one another, I am left with a hopeless feeling, like nothing about the human condition will change. Not only do I exhaust the people around me, but I also exhaust myself.
This has been a mental battle for acceptance of myself that I’ve been dealing with since I was little. Feeling good about what I like in comparison to what is trendy and portrayed as interesting has always made me feel like an outcast. Coming to terms with the fact that some people may not understand my interests, and possibly not even like them, has been hard. I feel awkward in social situations after I bring up a topic I find cool, only to be met with blank stares and a shift in conversation.
Feeling insufferable is insufferable. It’s exhausting and depressing and confusing. I don’t have any of the right answers, but I can tell my fellow insufferable women this; like the things you like, the right people will follow. When I pursued my interests by getting the internships and job opportunities that I saw as valuable, I was met with people who like me, were slightly weird and shared the same desire to learn as much as possible. Like me, they’ve been deemed insufferable, but to me, they were a godsend in an environment that seemingly would never understand.
Your interests are important, whether or not someone else values them. I think you and your interests are so incredibly exciting and I compel you to pursue them. Be inspired, be bold in your research, seek understanding in all things. Fellow female history majors, excel in this field, and be proud of the things you know. Fearlessly share your knowledge, and if people don’t listen, keep talking. Our field is important and vital to humanity. Understanding history is understanding humans, and is that not life? Coming to understand one another better so that we can flourish and grow? So, to my female liberal arts majors, continue to be insufferable, I want to listen to you.