So today I got the opportunity to meet my successor as the Resident Assistant of my floor. The time was very emotional for me, as I reflected on the past year — the experiences, the people, the significance. Anywho, it got me thinking. How would I tell my own story? As I sit in my dorm room I wonder, how will I ever be able to relate the entire story of how significant college has been to me? How will I talk about the friends that I made? How will I be able to really emphasize how being an RA has impacted my views on family, friends, and leadership?
I imagine writers in the past felt this same feeling. They lived significant lives, and some aspects of events are only significant to the person because of some intrinsic value. Certainly what we read from Ben Franklin’s Autobiography is only part of Franklin’s tale. I am sure –ok maybe I’m just really speculating — there is much in his life that as he wrote it in his autobiography he struggled to get the entire message apart. As historians, we cannot forget that sometimes, we won’t see the value. We will only see that someone thought it was important. However, isn’t that one of the fun parts about studying history? We get to try to decipher why people include in wills, books, pamphlets, etc. what they do, and then we get to try to understand the value. Then when we finally get to the root of it, aren’t we left with a more satisfied feeling of understanding about the person we researched?
Maybe the story doesn’t tell everything. Oh well, it just leaves room for an incredible adventure that you get to take part in as a historian. Perhaps someday, people will be thinking the same thing as they explore your life.