History in the making

WillisWillis

By Brianna Willis, Assistant Features Editor 

Most people who know me, or read my columns, know that I am a history major. I love history so much that my friends send me pictures of a lobby with historic memorabilia in it and I genuinely tear up.

It has become worse the last few months as every day is another day closer to graduation for me. When I start to think about graduation I start to get overwhelmingly emotional. Soon, I will no longer be in an environment where I can learn all the history my little brain can stand. I will be outside the boundaries of campus, passing on that knowledge to a new generation.

Everyone has their own history. Sure I learn in the classroom about national histories, about local histories, but what is perhaps more intriguing and elusive is learning about an individual’s history. We all moan and groan about first day introductions that are simultaneously annoying and nerve-wracking. 

“What is interesting about me after all,” I think to myself every single time. Lately, I’ve stopped and reflected on those introductions. How much I genuinely learned about a person based off their responses. How throughout the semester, personal nuggets of life experience and memories are dispersed by individuals when something we learn resonates with them.

Just last week I learned about Polish vodka, which is apparently much better than Russian vodka, but isn’t pure potato. Fun fact, I know. However, underneath this exciting fact was someone sharing a story about something they had experienced and allowed me a better insight to my fellow classmates and even professor.

When people tell me history is boring, it is these moments that I remember. How can stories of loss, of conquering nations, of war, of love, of peace, or of adventure ever be boring? Perhaps we aren’t paying attention to what matters about history. It isn’t the specific date or time in which something happens – although for accuracy purposes it does matter – that history is truly concerned about. History wants to understand how and why things happen. What was society like? Who held power? Who questioned authority? Why did this revolution happen? History is searching for answers in the countless primary source documents. History is listening to a classmate describe the most interesting thing they’ve ever done.

I think too often we take for granted the opportunity to be human, to get to know one another. I know I am guilty of putting headphones on and listening to angry rap music to get people not to talk to me before class starts. These last few weeks I have started reevaluating this practice. Instead I’ve begun talking to people about my hometown, about their travels, about food (something everyone so far has agreed on).  I’m taking my degree and training in history and applying it to simply being more friendly, listening more.

Whether you’re a freshman just starting your college journey, or a senior about to graduate, we’re all making our own history, adding to the stories and memories we have already accumulated. So take time to enjoy those conversations before class, they can help us understand each other a little better.