I’m not sure how many of you have read my post titled “What Was I Thinking?” but in it I talked about why I study history. Now that being said, I want to write a little bit on why I chose to study history.
My first intentions were not to study history. Rather, I wanted to study politics, go to law school, and work as a DA or something along those lines. So what happened?
I think the first thing is that my favorite class was social studies. I found it so cool to learn about battles and armies duking it out to see who would get to take older cities. My parents bought me a bunch of Scholastic Book Company books on Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, so in my 6th grade social studies class I often talked about things that were not in the textbook. I think the affirmation that the teachers gave me really encouraged me to continue along this path.
In high school, I was on the debate team, and I loved it. Something about combining teenagers and arguing just seems to make sense doesn’t it? Anywho, the only classes where I really got to utilize my skills of argument were. . . in my social studies classes. Though it was not until Junior year of high school that I really thought about being a history major. I had AP Euro, and I had the greatest time. Not only did I have a really good teacher, but the course content was fascinating. I knew that I would likely study history, because only history majors could find learning about the modernization of Russia under Peter the Great a fascinating subject. Nevertheless, I found that I would go to Borders and Barnes and Nobles and pick up a history book I could find, and I would just read and read.
However, at that point I was going to study politics and history together. It was not until I visited Messiah College that I realized that history is actually what I really wanted to learn — not politics. I heard this great talk about how historians were defenders and champions of the past. They were truth-seekers. Well I was sold, and when I filled out my application, I put down that I intended to be a history major.
Though I must admit, I almost switched my major. After my first year at Messiah, I really enjoyed economics, and strongly considered changing my major — please don’t be mad, I promise this story has a happy ending. Anyway, I spent a lot of time praying, and looking at why I wanted to switch my major. I realized that I wanted to switch my major not because of a sense of calling, but because it was the easy way out. At the end of the day, I felt like history was really the place I needed to stay, and I am incredibly thankful I did not change my major.
I realized that I wanted to keep understanding the past. I wanted to seek the truth, and I realized that I would be in the unique position to tell stories that otherwise would not have been told.
At the end of the day, I chose history because I love people, I love to argue, and there is just something intrinsically fascinating to me about learning about the past. I love my history classes, and often wish I would record class lectures, because there is so much knowledge that I want to pass along to my students in the future, and hope that one day they will also choose this noble major.
Sure we don’t necessarily make six figure salaries, own two homes, and drive a BMW, but let’s be honest, how many people do? So for all of you out there, why not history? Join the rides to the past that we historians get to take, and start to experience the world through the lenses of the past.