It is halfway through my summer in D.C. and I upon sitting down to write this, dozens of things to write about are running through my head. To sort them out, I just decided to start writing and see where I ended up, which as you will soon see is sort of a metaphor for my time in Washington thus far.
A lot of what I have learned that last six weeks is what I expected: what an appropriations hearing looks like, how members of Congress can somehow get back to the hundreds of people that contact them every week, the process for getting a job on the Hill. What I didn’t expect as much was to learn what it means to really take care of myself. I have always been independent and have lived at college for 2 years away from home, so I moved to Washington thinking I had it all figured out. It wasn’t until I moved to this huge, brand-new city that I was really faced with what it means to be in on my own. For the first two weeks of the summer (before VIEW began) I lived in a chilly basement Airbnb in Maryland without a stove or a microwave. I didn’t know a single soul. I had to take a city bus with a route that seemed like a puzzle to even get to my metro station. I started a new job working for the House of Representatives with absolutely no one around to hold my hand or tell me that I needed to iron my dress. The first few nights, I laid in bed absolutely terrified that I couldn’t figure it all out. But that was a month ago. In that month, I just pushed through all the states of uncertainty and not knowing where I was going. The classic “fake it ’til you make it” approach. Today, I don’t even look at the signs in the metro station because I know where I’m going. I find myself giving restaurant recommendations to people here on tours of the Capitol. Last week, I took an Amtrak train to Philadelphia for the weekend all by myself because I’d never seen Independence Hall. I would not have ever imagined doing all of this a month ago. My six weeks in Washington have been the biggest learning experience not just about politics, but about life in general. I learned that “just keep swimming” is about the best advice you can give someone out on their own in the real world for the first time (I saw Finding Dory last night and clearly found it both adorable and relatable).
I write this on my second-to-last day in the office of Representative Kevin Yoder. Next Tuesday I will hop to the other side of the aisle and start a whole new adventure interning for Representative Jim Cooper. Usually, I would be terrified to start a new job, but with all I have made it through so far in Washington, I think I will be just fine.