I have always been proud to say I am an arts student. Proud that I love books, reading and delving into other people’s hearts, minds and pasts. At secondary school I was regarded with either mild disdain or outright scepticism when voicing my opinions over whichever texts we happened to be studying at the time. My peers tended to be suspicious of such enthusiasm and over-achieving was often a dangerous pastime. The unwritten rule was that effort of any kind and enthusiasm or dedication to one’s studies was uncool. Intelligence itself was not necessarily looked down on – you could be fantastically bright, as long as you appeared to manage it without putting in any work at all. It was either genius or gormless in my school. Given my natural disadvantages of ginger hair and braces (for the majority of my high school career), my penchant for academia was just one more nail in my social coffin. However, I happily embraced this. I was not overtly geeky, or even manically engaged with my work, but I got by quite easily, liked most of the subjects and quietly accepted my inevitable place in the social standing.
It was somewhat of a surprise and a relief then, to escape to university where most people shared a love of the subjects they were studying. There was more room to be yourself, to grow and change and find your own little niche and friend group. Yet ironically I started to find that I was gradually adopting the same scorn and scepticism as that which my darling classmates had submitted me to not that long ago. Suddenly my enthusiasm was starting to look tame in comparison to the dedication and exuberance with which some students viewed their classes. Half the time I wasn’t even sure if they were serious, it seemed so unlikely that anyone could adore theories of realism in International Relations or the works of Thomas Hardy so much that they would happily wax lyrical about them all day and then spend all night re-reading them.
At first I thought I had managed to find the rogue students who were in fact the exception to the rule and really, truly loved every little bit of what they studied, but this was blown out of the water by the increasing number of people I encountered. In fact, there seemed to be a dreadful habit among all arts students for “pompous wankerism”, as my Dad likes to call it. Everywhere I turned all I could hear was dross imbibed opinions that were either grossly uninformed or deliberately controversial bordering on ridiculous. In every one of my classes I have had so far, at least one person has turned up in a full suit for each occasion, briefcase in hand and eager to dissect the weeks reading and arguments. Now I know we shouldn’t judge by appearances but, really? A suit?
Now I’m not saying scientists are all sunshine and daisies, salt of the earth type of people, but there does at least seem to be a less ostentatious streak in them. They have an innate practicality and logic which generally leads them away from the rather fantastical conclusions that many of my peers seem to come to. Perhaps this is why most of my friends are scientists, and to be honest if my brain could wrap itself around Einstein’s theories or the laws of mathematics of whatever it is they do, I would probably join them in a heartbeat. I just can’t stand the waffle and the bullsh*t that the majority of arts students love to pedal. I wouldn’t have such a problem if they kept it to their essays or exam scripts where it is meant to be, but they don’t. No wonder everyone thinks our subjects are worthless and we’ll never be employed.
Image Credit – Rachel Korowitz