On feeling alone in your field of study

Question for the MoAS Office: “There’s no one that does what I do. Why should I even bother?”

Have you heard a friend say something like this? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself? “I don’t have fun with A&S activities because no one does what I do.” Guess what. I’ve said this myself, too. And it frustrated me a good deal. That feeling of being alone. That feeling of not having any help.

After some time I learned to reframe how I looked at it. That helped me a good deal to be less frustrated. That helped me to feel less different. That helped me feel more a part of the A&S community.

How’d I reframe my thinking?

In many ways I think we’re all doing the same things. I think we are just going about it with different tools and materials and methods.

What do I mean?

To some degree? I think we all want to have fun. I think we all want to learn. And I think we all want to teach others and about our passions.

I think we go about that these things in much the same ways.

  • We learn about historical sources.
  • We research all we can about our subject.
  • We experiment.
  • We may fail.
  • We try again.
  • We practice.
  • We get better.
  • We share what we learn with others.

When I thought about it that way? It helped me a lot. I stopped thinking of myself as being left out and I started thinking of myself as part of the club. A club that thought I was a part of the club already. They already saw me as a part of the community. I was the one that was feeling like I wasn’t a part of the community. A club that’s not made to exclude people at all. A club that’s made to include anyone who wants to learn and teach and have fun within the arts and sciences.

Were there still hard things? Yes. Of course. I didn’t have as many people to turn to and ask for help on my subject. I had to learn some of those subject specific things on my own. I did, though, have a lot of people I could turn to about how to research my subject and all sorts of other things.

The more I worked with other people the more I learned that I wasn’t alone there either. There’s lots of people, that were like me, working on a thing that others didn’t do either. It wasn’t the same thing as I wanted to do. But in some ways we were exploring on our own, but together. We were a community all doing arts and sciences that other people were not exploring. So there was camaraderie there, too.

Will this kind of reframing work for everyone. Of course not.

But it might help for a few people. That’s why I shared it. Because I know it helped me. And I’d like it to help others, too.

~philip white, Deputy EK MoAS

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