I have a lifelong habit of getting focused on a particular subject for months at a time, but I tend to fixate on things I find distressing. I don’t “like” these subjects, but I feel a powerful drive to understand them. The more distressing the subject, the harder it is to get out of my head. That’s not exactly elevator chit-chat, so I try to keep it to myself. Occasional relevant topics do come up, though, and I have trouble hiding how much I know about it. This year, my fixation has been about understanding how the Nazis came to power. The more I learn about it, the more distressing it becomes, and the more compelled I feel to understand it—especially when I see the connections to the present day.
But I have no idea how to explain this to people. It’s one thing if you clearly know way too much about intestinal parasites. It’s another if you clearly know way too much about Nazis. I’m worried that I’ll accidentally make it obvious that I know a lot more about Nazis than I’d like to, and people will come to the wrong conclusion. The obvious solution might seem to be “don’t talk about Nazis,” but they come up more often than you’d expect. I don’t think “I read a lot about stuff that stresses me out, including Nazis” will fly, because I don’t have a good answer to the obvious follow-up of “Why?” Plus, if the assumption isn’t directly brought up, I’m worried that trying to address it just sounds more suspicious.