Hey there folks!
As some of you may or may not know I have a degree in history. My original plan was to pursue a PhD and become a professor. I wanted to specialize in ancient Japanese history, but during my undergrad course work I realized that I just did not have the discipline and drive to pursue that objective.
I spent a lot of time after graduation trying to justify my degree to myself, because I did not get accepted to grad school and was going to have to work doing something completely unrelated to my degree. I also have a tendency to get a bit defensive when talking to other college graduates, because it has been my experience that a BA in history is viewed as pretty useless. I will deflect the attention by saying something about how I pursued something I loved instead of something that would make me money. While this is technically true I am mostly saying this to make myself feel better.
No matter how insecure I may feel at times about my choice of degree and my college experience, I must admit that I see value in both the degree and the experience. At the end of the day I did not pursue a degree that directly correlates to a profession in which I can make money. However, of all the men and women I can imagine that I would want to emulate very few of them were so singularly driven. I understand the importance of making money and I will do whatever I have to do to make sure my needs are met, and those of my family should I ever have one. If there is anything I have learned about myself in my years on earth is that I am not just one thing.
I know that what I want to do with my life is to write, it is a fundamental part of who I am and I learned this in college. My academic pursuits introduced me to poets, philosophers, and thinkers that I never knew existed. College also gave me a place to start practicing my writing. Granted it was entirely of an academic nature but I wrote a lot in pursuit of a degree in history. Most importantly, I learned what history is and it has provided me with a greater sense of awe and wonder when I look at the world I live in.
History is not about memorizing names and dates, anyone can learn to do that, if not you can always pick up a book for that information should you have the need. History is about seeing and understanding that the world you live in is a construct made for you by those who came before. The shoes on your feet, the food you eat, the home you live in; all of these things exist because of someone else. The reason we do not live in caves and hunt animals with sticks and rocks is because of the blood, sweat and tears of other people.
For me the study of history is a very emotional and spiritual journey. I am not just reading books I am having conversations with the specters of the dead. Maybe that is not for everybody, but I know that it is going to make me a hell of a writer. So why did I study history, because I had to, it is just a part of who I am.